found footage

Shaun vs. WNUF Halloween Special (2013)

wnuf1

Directed by Chris LaMartina et al

Starring Paul Fahrenkopf, Nicolette le Faye, and Robert Long

A local news presents a Halloween special that goes terribly wrong when strange occurrences happen in a supposedly haunted house.

Review

Presented as a live Halloween news special from the 80’s, local news station WNUF presents Halloween trick or treating safety tips, an interview with a candy-hating dentist and religious towns people who hate Halloween.  The special eventually leads into a supposedly haunted house that hasn’t been entered in over twenty years with paranormal researchers on hand to verify the house’s supposed hauntedness as well as a priest to do an exorcism if there’s still time.

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Most of the budget on screen.

It’s a long wait until we get into the house.  The first twenty minutes begins with the news cast leading into the special.  The anchors cover certain aspects of Halloween dressed as Dracula and a witch and have some fun with the holiday.  Once the special begins, we get several video packages regarding the infamous Webber home where a man murdered his family due to what he was told because of a ouija board.  The house has been shuttered since those tragic events but it’s time to go in with a pair of elderly paranormal researchers who believe the house is still haunted.  Once they finally enter, the fun begins.

The film is certainly a unique take on the “found footage” genre.  I bet if you got people to watch this without telling them it’s all made up, they could believe it’s real.  A news report that’s all in good fun but becomes increasingly ominous as the special goes further and further into the home.  There are plenty of humorous scenes in the first half though as the movie turns more serious, while it’s an interesting watch, it never becomes a truly scary film. 

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I’d rather be anywhere else right now.

The movie nails the old school look perfectly.  Since the “special” was originally presented in 1987, the film has a VHS-quality grain throughout with slight warping at the top and bottom of the screen.  The special is riddled with tons of local commercials from everything to local carpet stores to political attack ads.  One of the few problems I had was that there were too many of these commercials.  I know they were put in to make the “audience” keep watching to see what would happen next, but cutting down the commercial breaks would’ve been great.  Since all the actors are amateurs acting appropriately hammy they of course come off like real newscasters and local residents of this small town. This film really looks like it’s almost thirty years old, kudos to the filmmakers to making this movie look as real as possible.

If you can hunt down a copy of this small, independent film, you’ll be treated to a very unique presentation with a few good laughs and, if you’re old enough to remember these types of programs, a nice throwback to the old days of television.  You may wind up fast forwarding through some of the commercial breaks to get to the good stuff like we do in this day and age, but in the end WNUF Halloween Special is a fun watch from the startling beginning to the frantic end.

TL;DR

Story: 8 – A unique presentation of a “live” local Halloween special that starts off just as good fun but slowly becomes more ominous as the event goes on.

Blood: 2 – Very light on the gru, some after the fact dead bodies mostly.

Nudity: 0 – Not on local public television.

Overall: 7 – While it may not become a yearly tradition to watch like Charlie Brown, it’s certainly worth a watch over the spooky holiday at least once.

Trivia

-The film’s budget was just $1500.

-The film was released on DVD but had a limited run of VHS prints also released.

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