The Blair Witch Project used the dawning of the internet age to create a firestorm of hype, planting some incredibly creepy urban legends and documentaries that had many of us believing that the Blair Witch myth was real.
The Upper Footage (UPPER) is the first found footage film since to create as effective an online campaign, to the point that if you google it, you will find clips from Entertainment Tonight talking about the story and implementing Hollywood names like Chelsea Kane, Miley Cyrus, and Demi Lovato, as well as a story of Quentin Tarantino buying the footage of the awful thing that happened one night in the apartment of a New York City socialite named Blake Pennington….
That tragic night is what we see unfolding in The Upper Footage (UPPER). Don’t go into this expecting a horror movie. It’s more like a found footage version of movies like Stag, in which a group of partying people take things too far and one of them ends up dead. In this case, a small group of friends spends the first half of the movie getting wasted in a limo—and spouting a whole lot of heavily anti-gay stuff. Eventually, they pick up a pretty girl named Jackie and we’re informed that Jackie’s face has been blurred throughout the footage to respect the wishes of her family.
Halfway through the movie, Jackie dies of an overdose. This begins long stretches of still footage locked on particular objects: Jackie’s hair, a room, a wall, the backseat of a car. We basically hear the remainder of the movie instead of actually seeing anything as the friends rant, scream, and fight over how to handle the situation, including coming up with some seriously fucked up solutions to covering it up.
The person manning the camera rarely mans it. He simply puts it down so we see none of the action. It’s more like found sound than found footage. But I must admit, the actors successfully get across the level of paranoia and hysteria they experience as they realize their perfect lives could completely unravel if they don’t get rid of Jackie’s body and pretend this never happened. The level of screaming and fighting is so realistic that it’s actually grating to listen to, quite disturbing, and very convincing.
Of course, this also leads to the film suffering from the same problem as all found footage films; why the hell is someone recording all this? Especially in this situation in which the footage can only be incriminating! It’s not like they’re filming paranormal activity. The answer is that the dude with the camera wanted to do the right thing and report what happened, so his plan is to get the footage of the privileged dicks plotting to cover it up to prove that he was against it the whole time.
The Upper Footage (Upper) will definitely test your tolerance for the found footage genre of you aren’t a big fan, but it is a very unique plotline rather than your usual ghosts or monsters. That’s why the footage (backed by the convincing pre-hype viral campaign) comes across as much more genuine than in some of the more fantastical films of the genre. And considering the predicament these characters are in, there’s no doubt that something really extreme is going to have to happen in the final moments of the footage….