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  • I'm frequently antagonized by found footage films that tend to follow no logic and interrupt any significant action with electronic video interference. Leaving D.C. doesn't fall into any of those traps and presents a straightforward but interesting narrative about an average guy who moves out to the woods, where he's beset by what just may be supernatural phenomena. The film's mystery builds slowly and much of the interest involves simply observing star/director/writer Josh Criss doing his logical best to rise to the occasion of confronting a wave of spookiness. It's entirely watchable and Criss does a creditable job carrying the film as its primary on-camera presence, explaining the reasonable steps he's taking to identify and deflect the bizarre intrusions. While the conclusion could have used a little more oomph, the film is a good ride and an excellent example of what can be achieved with limited resources.
  • The actor gives a good, solid performance of someone who, you (a little too quickly) realize was not wound all that tight to begin with, then thrusts himself into an unfamiliar territory thinking it will be good for him. His possible issues come more and more to the forefront in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Unfortunately the lack of a budget means the ending will make you think the time spent wasn't worth it ( the end of the original Paranormal Activity was a showstopping extravaganza by contrast) but then you think, maybe it was--just to see one guy pull something like this off all by himself.
  • SashaDarko21 February 2017
    It was not an easy task to acquire this movie, let alone learning about it (IIRC I found it on someone's "best found footage horror" list here on IMDb).

    This is probably the best found footage horror movie I watched made by one guy with little to no budget. It's extremely realistic and things happening during the movie are really scary and authentic. The movie consumes you fully, I needed to eat at some point and didn't even wanted to do that because I was too absorbed by it.

    No typical tropes and no clichés, I watched hundreds of horror movies and never seen a story like this. No, the premise itself is nothing really original, but the details and the way they're presented makes the story unique.

    The movie doesn't have a single freakin' jumpscare or all that stupid "noisy glitches" on the footage. Not even a "super dark" soundtrack. It just doesn't need that. Just pure, smart horror.
  • joeyriles881 November 2018
    Warning: Spoilers
    I found this movie stayed with me in a way I did not expect. There is the possibility that I underestimated it due to the thumbnail that looked like it had been made by a person just discovering MS Paint; once it began, however, I was hooked. The protagonist is unlikable and very flawed-his tone of voice and way of talking to his support group via these vlog updates leaves us wondering: did he leave D.C because he struggled to make and maintain friends? He is part of an O.C.D support network and that really comes across in the character's fastidious nature. I can't help but feel sorry for him and, though he's kind of irritating, you get the impression that he is a decent guy who just wants some peace and quiet. He hikes a bit (which is an American pastime I have never understood, along with bowling and shooting people) and discovers a cat's skull nailed to a tree, as you do. The letter B is carved above it.

    M.R James' protagonists were often scholarly, academic types who came a cropper due to their active disbelief in the supernatural. The protagonist here is the modern day equivalent: a techie. He attempts to record a noise he thought he heard in the dead of night by using a Tascam/MP3 recorder. We sit with him as he begins the laborious and tedious scrolling through, looking for bumps in the audio. He is not disappointed.

    Now, I teach creative writing and I am always reminding students that horror is always skating very close to hilarious. To say that he hears noises and they are unnerving is to do a disservice to the ambition Criss shows here. There are no spooky demon growls, no clanking chains, just a staccato 'chop, chop' and a plaintive voice saying "Why? Why are you doing this?" It's horrible. It's just really sad and completely without any context. He is, understandably, worried by this and sets up the recorder again. The next morning when editing he hears something that should be funny, if not laugh out loud hilarious: the sound of a flautist playing Claude Debussy's Prelude to a Faun. It isn't funny, though. It makes the flesh crawl. It's three am and somebody is playing the flute outside his window. It's a touch that makes this feel like a very different kind of ghost story.

    He then decides to try and document this phenomena with a hunting camera tied to a tree (which is predictably stolen and shows a few shots of the interior of the house, including just outside his bedroom door.) This sequence also has a rather disturbing still image of a dead cat with a rather opaque poem set beside it.

    Bunny by Vandal Most beautiful tart Killed her

    There are also shadowy images of what looks like a girl and a male figure-possibly the killer of said cat? There is such little exposition that the ghostly goings on are almost ours to play with, which adds strength to the fear factor as there's no obvious motive. Possibly a man and woman lived out here in a twisted relationship, culminating in the nailing of her cat to a tree to teach her a lesson? Then she played the flute? It's almost better that you don't try to analyse the 'why' as it isn't supposed to make sense.

    The final act is tricky. The noises do not abate, Josh has been consulting internet forums and is told to leave the presence alone but he cannot. At the same time the next night Josh, on his umpteenth whiskey, decides to go and confront the noises with his gun. We hear shouts of surprise, then terror, then shots, then silence. The camera he had been using suddenly moves as if picked up, and we fade to black.

    I have given this 10 stars because it is different. It isn't perfect but it is brave and it certainly played on my fears of solitude, the woods and of classical music.
  • I don't like "found footage" movies. This is one of the rare exceptions that isn't formulaic and uninspired like so many. There is no action, no impressive special effects, no jump scares, or any of the usual trappings these offerings tend to produce. There is just a man, a camera and a good, creepy story. The first 10 minutes or so does not feel like a horror movie at all, I actually had to check the title to make sure I was watching what I thought I was watching. It also bucked tradition by avoiding the big typical "hollywood-esque" ending. I found this all to be really refreshing. Granted he probably didn't have the budget for these things, but showed they aren't essential components for a good movie.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    In the first few minutes, you meet the main character. He talks into the camera, which he will do for the entirety of the film.

    For the first 10 minutes or so, I thought, "This man can not die fast enough. Please let someone climb out of Crystal Lake and grab him, or appear in his dreams and stab him with knife hands, or put him in the bee helmet, or stab him in the shower, or at least let him get trapped in his car by a rabid dog. I'd be fine if he fell and couldn't get up and didn't have one of those buttons."

    I thought I was going to die of boredom before anything happened to the guy on the horror film.

    But, then the whole thing actually works. As weird as it sounds, you get drawn in and want to know what's going to happen next.

    And, the story doesn't disappoint. The things that happen hold together with the internal reality of the film, and they're creepy. There are a hundred places they could have thrown in cheap jump scares, but they don't. They stick to a slow building time line that, in my opinion, actually pays off in the end.
  • What a GREAT surprise! Found footage with a reason for being--no shaking camera, no shrieking and running with the camera which is suddenly dropped at the end.

    Best of an, a non-annoying lead who says his lines so well, there are not constant fade edits. This means he's talking to the camera like a real person, makes his points, and then hits stop. There are no dull spots, just a gradually building sense of tension and unease.

    I thought it was terrific but couldn't find Josh anywhere on social media to thank him!
  • I sincerely enjoyed this movie. It is truly scary but with no gore no ill conceived jump scenes, etc. Josh Criss does a great job (as basically the only actor for the great majority of the film) of conveying the mounting mystery, suspense, helplessness, hopelessness, etc. I can't believe he hasn't done more of these. (Josh Criss, why haven't you done more like this?) I have to attribute the negative reviews to people who prefer more special effects, gore, etc. This movie delivers the goods without all that. Good job!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Came across this on amazon prime. I had some doubts because of the terrible poster. However, the movie does indeed give some incredibly chills. The main character gives a great performance and he made the movie all by himself with is amazing. When creepy thing do happen, it is very suspenseful. This is due to the fact it feels incredibly real. There's no over the top moments that make you roll your eyes, it's a good subtle horror. I also like the fact that's it's very for your interpretation on what is going on. Is it a spirit? Or someone messing with him? However, I was slightly disappointed with some of the scares. Sometimes it felt a little bit to repetitive and the same things were happening over and over again. The first couple of times it happens it's chilling and then gets a little old. I'm talking about the chopping of wood. The flute playing gives me the chills everytime it's on. Which is the best thing about the movie. Who would imagine adding something like a flute in this type of movie and making it skin crawling. The ending as well fell a little short, it's not an awful ending, but I was expecting another 10 minutes and it just abruptly ends. The movie does what it's supposed the though, which is deliver creepy scares that a lot of found footage movies today seem not to do.
  • Draysan-Jennings10 April 2019
    Really creepy and well done. Kept me entertained throughout the whole film. Definitely give it a shot if you are into found footage films.
  • mich-leclair22 August 2017
    Warning: Spoilers
    This was a random find for me on Amazon Prime. It's a selfie movie. I found it absorbing. The main character suffers from OCD, and probably related syndromes. He's a rather lovable little noodge. He buys a house in West Virginia, 4.5 hours from Washington DC in order to escape the city. The narrative comes in the form of video updates he's sending to his OCD support group. Things start to go awry for him as his solitude is broken by late night visitations of unknown origin.

    The ghostly aspects of this story didn't interest me half as much as the character study of a young neurotic coming apart in isolation. It's really very well played. He has a crush on a woman in his support group--she comes to visit and her obvious disinterest in him, combined with his eager affection for her, is sad and painful to watch. His attachment to technology is likewise poignant, as he can only relate to the unknown at first through digital devices. Things rapidly deteriorate as he tries to confront the interloper in person.

    I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this film to a friend.
  • phenomynouss10 March 2018
    This little film plays to nearly all my favorite traits of a horror/mystery type film --- there's very little in the way of a monster or boogin, and the telltale signs of potentially spoopy ghost in the form of weird sounds is not so blazingly obvious as random demonic growls, or soft voices, but in the seemingly random form of knocking or chopping on trees, and flute music.

    As well, the film doesn't outright explain or tell us a whole lot, and we're meant to catch up along the way, such as why he's out in the woods on his own, who Claire is, and what the "group" is he is documenting his life for.

    the film is about a guy who moves out to a house in the middle of the woods somewhere outside of Washington D.C., part of a support group apparently, and video logging his experiences. Along the way, he starts experiencing odd events, which he begins to document via sound recordings and cameras, including the aforementioned flute music and tree chopping.



    This is one of those types of horrors that rely a lot on very subtle technical details rather than big broad frights. For example, rather than having something obvious like a video camera playing without power or battery, or images of hell showing up in a memory card, we get at one point a series of seemingly innocuous shots of the protagonist's hallway taken from 3 different angles on both ends of the hall. The horror comes from the fact that, according to the timestamps, the 3 photographs, taken from one end of the hall to the other, were taken entirely in the span of 1.5 seconds, meaning what ever was using the camera was zipping around at inhuman speed.

    A lot of these elements of the horror appear to be thrown out at random, but never bear the sign of being "random" for the sake of randomness. There genuinely seems to be some manner of backstory to the "supernatural" presence which is never fully revealed or explained, and it only makes the film creepier and more unsettling.

    The most obvious inexplicable and creepy element is the cat skull nailed to a tree, with the letter "B" carved over it. This is a recurring element which keeps showing up, and is made even creepier by a photo left behind on one of the cameras, apparently taken by the "ghost", without a timestamp, of a dead cat in the daylight and a typed letter next to it that simply reads

    "** Bunny by Vandal **

    Most beautiful tart.

    Killed her"

    there's no explanation to this or how it ties in to the "ghost"'s story or if it's the same cat as the skull nailed to the tree, and it's utterly terrifying as is; unexplained, yet tangentially related to what's happening.

    With the backstory of the previous owners, the protagonist tries to piece together just what is happening and what is causing it, sometimes resorting to simply yelling out the window at the apparent ghost as it plays the flute. Long, lingering moments tend to follow as you wait, expecting some hackneyed jump scare, maybe a face appears in the window, or a chair inside goes sliding across the room. Instead, the flute playing resumes.

    The film doesn't leave the viewers completely in the dark, relying on a sort of exposition dump in the form of an e-mail exchange between him and a woman in Minnesota. But even that expo dump is full of suppositions, as the woman makes clear that she is only guessing based on what he told her.

    The film has a rather abrupt ending which I feel could be enough to turn off some viewers, or cause them to outright hate the movie altogether. To me, I felt some visceral disappointment that this genuinely unsettling and fascinating experience was ending, while simultaneously grateful that it doesn't try to go for one absolute explanation over another, inevitably disappointing one group or another.

    In a sense, the ending is the logical culmination of the movie's style of mystery; no clear-cut resolution or explanation. No way to comprehend something truly supernatural; only experience it.
  • I was very impressed by this "one man band" version of found footage horror films.

    Josh Criss does a great job of keeping you engaged and slowly building suspense. It all feels real, which is key to a successful found footage film.

    This is essentially a story about a troubled man, who moves out to the middle of nowhere to escape the hustle and bustle of city living, but becomes obsessed with the odd happenings occuring late at night in the woods surrounding his new home.

    It's an intriguing film, mostly for its simplicity, but also for its understanding that less is often more when it comes to building suspense, and budget is not much of a factor or excuse anymore, when rating a film's quality. If Josh Criss can do it with a camcorder and no dough, why can't hollywood?
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I've seen my share of found footage films, most of them quite enjoyable. But the ending is really what makes or breaks the movie. Leaving DC has an incredible buildup, and is surprisingly well paced given that it only has one character (pretty much). Unfortunately, the ending was a real letdown. It didn't have to explain the bizarre occurrences, or kill off the protagonist, just leave us with some form of conclusion. It didn't. Still, I would recommend Leaving DC as it is enjoyable and well made - just don't expect closure
  • As a fan of found footage, I've seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. And after reading a few reviews that mentioned this as a low budget film, I was slightly discouraged. However, the majority of reviews gave this film high praise so I have it a go. All I can say is... superb job!!! This director, who is also the star actor, is phenomenal!!! I even found myself laughing (in a good way!) at some of his superb lines and his believable character. Outstanding job! Truly, truly a job well done! There are no jump scares and no gore that are typically aspects present in FF films, but it still keeps you captivated. I only wish the ending could have been better, but given that this film was done in the way it was (watch through til the very end and you will know what i mean), this can be forgiven. Overall, bravo! I will watch it again for sure!
  • I like found footage movies. I feel this is the best there is.. Climax could have been much elaborated and detail. AcTing is so perfeCt. It's a underrated movie. Wish there as a sequel.. It's hard for movie to please . But this one did
  • This is exactly the type of treasure I am hunting for when I scoure the internet for entertainment. 95% of the time, I find something with promise, only to be disappointed 5 minutes in. This was not the case with Leaving D.C.

    Clever. Well done. Eerie and suspenseful.

    Thank you Mr. Criss.
  • I found this movie on Prime Video through amazon. I must have watched it 30 times or so. It's a great found footage film. 99% of acting is Josh's character which is impressive. It doesn't have the spooks of paranormal activity but it doesn't need it. He acted very well as a man with OCD and needing to escape the city life. I highly recommend this movie and will continue to watch it from time to time.
  • jackstupidjack6 September 2018
    Warning: Spoilers
    This film is a good example to other film makers who want to use the found footage technique on how to avoid the much repeated tropes which so infest the genre. The acting is first rate (there is something of Tom Hanks about him), there is no shaky camera work, no brats talking over each other. The film is beautifully paced with genuine chills over endless Lewton buses so overused by many directors. A big hats off to the makers, cast and crew.
  • j-nickturner8 April 2020
    10/10
    Perfect
    This no-budget found footage film is definitely not for everyone. However, it is clever, subtle, and never wastes a minute or loses its footing.

    There is no soundtrack, no jump scares, and no massive leaps in volume that seem to come from no where.

    For anyone who like a subtle, slow-burning indie FF, this one ticks every box needed to become a modern classic of it's genre. In my opinion, this film is perfect.
  • gvp711 January 2020
    I'm a big fan of found footage movies, and this I the best one I've seen. There's no jump scares, or special effects, but that's what makes this work. There is a steady build up of tension and an increasing sense of isolation and dread.. I was born and raised in WV, and know the Webster Springs area well. I also worked in the DC area for many years, and know the stress and pressures of dealing with that area. I think the lead actor did an excellent job of relaying the feelings of having escaped the rat race, only to find himself in a far more stressful environment. I would highly recommend this movie.
  • Not the worst found footage film I've seen and it did hold my attention but ultimately as stated in the title of this review there just wasn't enough to the plot to make this a satisfying film.

    I liked the actor though. Unsure what happened at the end (I was on the verge of sleep) and what's with all the references to Venlafaxine (Effexor)? Did he include that so that we might think it was the cause of his suspicions? By the way, I was on that for years and at higher doses even. Also drank like a fish on it with my liver still intact. Hey that's just me.
  • This movie was awesome! Super super creepy. Verrrrry creepy. It gave us the creeps. Definitely a great watch! Enjoy it please!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Good film, it had my attention from beginning to end, even made me laugh a couple times. I was just disappointed with the end. Nothing was explained and no real grand finale. If only there was another 5-10 minutes to the movie that may have shown what it was he was dealing with, and had more to the ending.

    On a side note: the fact that I've lived in a city my entire life made his move to such isolation was the most terrifying aspect of the film.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I enjoyed this, it was very good and kept you in suspense.

    Regretfully the ending was lame
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