Webcast (2018)

Director: Paul McGhie
Starring: Samantha Redford, Joseph Tremain, Nicola Wright .UK. 1h 35m

It’s way too easy to summarise this as a found footage version of the Wicker man meets Kill List however I feel that it would be going the classics a bit of an injustice.

Webcast is a mockumentary/found footage film made by a couple of young lovebird students when they realise that some kind of cult is operating next door, and make all the wrong decisions in trying to uncover a deadly plot.

There are really strong folk horror vibes running throughout, by the end of the film you will have ticked off a lot of the staples, naked old folk, strange food offerings, icons and fetishes, an old church, chantings and sun masks to boot. but Paul McGhie doesn’t go above and beyond to really outline what the cult are really up to, but in defence neither does Ben Wheatly in Kill List (2011) but he drops enough hints to give the audience a few ideas to grasp and this is what helps hold the attention.

Chloe has only recently discovered that her family home seems to be besides a strange cult leader who has a history of kidnapping young girls and doing Pagan things with them, but the entire neighbourhood seems to be in on the plot, as she begins to film various people turning up to the property and being cured of ailments, there are more worrying signs when a screaming girl attempts to escape the property on a number of occasions. A friend of the family has also noticed the high volume of girls going missing in the region and helps Chloe and her boyfriend Ed out with some information spurring them on their home spun Poirot investigation.

Together they manage to make a total pig’s ear of the investigation, openly filming the neighbours, calling the cops, following people into unknown locations in the woods only to leave the car unlocked when they wander around looking for clues, why they didn’t just dox the group or wait for ritual night and call a swat team I don’t know…

Despite the odd plot hold and short coming, there’s a lot to like, the movie does flow quite pleasantly, things happen one step at a time and there’s a suspenseful build up of tension and agony as the chase is on. sadly Chloe and Ed don’t really ever understand how much danger they are in, but the film seems to be aimed at keeping the audience on their toes by throwing the couple into silly dangerous situations.

For found footage it manages to keep things believable, the soundtrack works to emphasise the crazy shenanigans that are going on next door but there are few scenes which fall out of the homespun fashion, people wake up in bed with the camera running cos filming yourself in bed is the new TikTok? again a few minor errors out of the way and the rest looks quite authentic.

For a live folk horror movie it does work to a degree, you’ll have to take everything at face value, after all we only know what is shown from the junior sleuths and for the most part they are always on the other side of the wall, just peeking through a curtain and assuming what’s going on from the thumping and screaming next door. With all the hints dropped about fertility and retribution I know Lord Summerisle would love to drop by for some cake.

The biggest turn off is the ending, I was really settling into the blend of suspense and confusion building up in the movie until the last few minutes which just go all out seemingly trying to prove a point but in the last few vital minutes it all just seemed to drop out for me, I think I get what Paul McGhie was trying to achieve but it’s just a messy let down. Kudos on the Blair witch, Rec and others running through the darkness shots at the end but dammit, it makes the film so hard to “read”.

I think with a bit more planning and consultation there could have been something really substantial and wholesome, maybe really bringing home how alive Paganism is, but I do wonder what all of this Folk Horror is doing for the scene? I do wonder if the Tumblr Witchey crowd believe that they will have to melt personal items in wax and chuck people down stairs to be a witch or are there other ways to make babies?

From its humble beginnings in the “house next door” Webcast, does turn out to be a really spooky thriller with a chilly atmosphere but it just lacks that little bit of bite. With a more coherent ending and maybe a touch more genuine horror and gore it could have tipped the scale into frightful and fierce.


Rating: 5/10

Related: The Borderlands (2013), Wicker Man (1973), Kill List (2011)
Lists: A-Z of Folk Horror
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