Webcast (2018)

Webcast is a superb found footage that descends into suburban folk horror, written and directed by Paul McGhie with co-writer Chris Shaw. We enjoyed it on Amazon Prime.

After enjoying Death of a Vlogger, I realised I’d commited a major oversight on my blog: I’ve never reviewed Webcast, which is a strong contender for my favourite found footage of all time.

Student filmmaker Chloe (Samantha Redford) wants to make a documentary about her missing Aunt Amelia, aided by her best friend Ed (Joseph Tremain). When they do, they capture shocking footage of a girl trying to flee from a neighbour’s house. She’s meant to be a drug addict, but Chloe isn’t convinced, and her suspicion only grows when the same house becomes the centre of a faith healing network. As the film gathers momentum, her documentary morphs into a would-be exposé, and that’s the film in a nutshell.

Found footage is depressingly easy to get wrong, and the two most common mistakes (in me ‘umble opinion) are as follows: setting it in the woods, and having unlikeable characters. The triumph of the original Blair Witch Project was getting us hooked on a story that, for long periods, was about some people moaning in a forest. I’ve never seen the feat repeated but it’s often attempted.

Webcast dodges both problems. A modern British suburb is a great setting for a claustrophobic horror; the semi-detached homes overlook the drives and gardens of their neighbours, so oddities can be glimpsed from first floor windows. Anyone who’s lived on a street like this will relate to the curtain-twitching vibe. In terms of mistake number two, Chloe and Ed are down-to-earth and likeable, and the acting is, to my eye at least, uniformly impressive. As well as the two leads, Chloe’s mum (Nicola Wright) gives a standout performance, and even the smaller parts are a cut above the average.

The actual story is very good indeed. It starts as a compelling mystery and morphs into a tense, walls-closing-in affair. The dénouement makes great use of indoor and outdoor locations to deliver the scares, fulfilling the promise of the gripping build-up. My only slight reservation is the fact that the very very last scene will confuse some viewers (including yours truly), but Webcast earned a lot of goodwill from me, so I respect their right to wrap it up how they wanted. It really is first-rate stuff.

In short, I think this is an overlooked gem, and every bit the equal of a famous found footage like The Blair Witch Project. Give it a whirl and see if you agree!

About the author

My name is Ellis. When I’m not reviewing movies, I write short stories about ghosts. If you like supernatural stalkers, you might enjoy Shallow Man, which is free to read online.

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