User Reviews (34)

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  • It seems like whenever I'm about to call it quits and give up on the whole tired deluge of mediocre "found footage"/"fake documentary" movies that have flooded the horror genre in recent years, one will come along and win me back by effectively using that narrative platform in clever and inventive ways that help better reveal their stories and characters.

    As easy as it is to find dozens of bad examples of these kind of movies over the past few years, there have also been a few gems like THE CONSPIRACY and AFFLICTED that stand head and shoulders over the others and serve to demonstrate how much potential these kind of movies can have if they're done correctly.

    I caught SAVAGELAND tonight as part of the New Orleans Horror Film Festival and, I'm happy to report, that it is definitely counts as another one of these "found-footage"/"fake documentary" gems that has, at least temporarily, restored my faith in that overplayed genre.

    Told in news-footage/documentary style with the use of interviews, stock footage, etc., SAVAGELAND tells the story of the fictional massacre of an entire small Arizona border town and the one man, an illegal immigrant, arrested for the crime. But as more information and evidence comes to light, the audience is forced to delve deeper into the mystery of what really happened that night.

    While I found the movie to be a little too long and repetitive in places, it is generally gripping and very intense. I also think the filmmakers may have given the answers away to the audience a little too easily and a little too soon in the movie, but as a whole, SAVAGELAND succeeds at using its' documentary format to draw you into the story and identify with the characters.

    If you're like me and are constantly looking for a beacon of light at the end of the long tunnel of mediocre found-footage horror movies, I recommend checking out SAVAGELAND.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Found this movie because a friend put me onto it and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    I liked the fact that everything was NOT completely explained. The movie built up the tension as the initial focus was on this survivor (of course how one guy could supposedly wipe out 57 people and get rid of all of their bodies in a few hours--go figure, BUT I know they were poking fun at the 'good ole boy' sheriff and townspeople).

    I thought the minimal use of "found footage" was a lot more powerful than a whole movie in that format--good work!

    I liked the escalation and the side characters trying to decide what really went on.

    Really good horror. Good enough I'll watch it again and probably add it to my collection!
  • Excellent horror movie. This is by no means your typical zombie film. It's much more substantive than that. The overall theme is eerily timely to today, and has a resonant political and social message. The true-crime style documentary approach is terrific and the acting is strong. Well worth watching.
  • Horror, tension, gore, mystery. Really enjoyed this film. An excellent faux- documentary with a very genuine cast. Clearly a lot of thought went into it, and a lot of love for genre filmmaking. Would love to see more films out there like this. From start to finish, it doesn't let you go, with plenty of ups and downs along the way. Definitely will watch again, and hope to see more from these filmmakers in the future. Would be great to see more.
  • This story is a fictional documentary. Very creepy in the way the story builds, but then when it's time to explain what happened, there's nothing. Do these events make sense? We'll never know. How disappointing.

    Like the podcast "Serial," this film attempts to uncover what really happened one night when the residents of a small town in Arizona on the Mixican border are massacred, mutilated, and disappeared. It focuses on determining the involvement--guilty or innocent--of the lone survivor, arrested for the apparent crimes and railroaded toward a death sentence.

    Not really a mockumentary--it's not making fun of documentaries--but a documentary style of storytelling to recount a fake event. Not really found footage but found photos. The content, documentary style, is mainly interviews with law enforcement, journalists, and photography experts. The discussion is illustrated with clips from a jail house confession and photos taken of the event as it unfolded. A 3-D drawing of the town shows what occurred when and where. The photos are unclear, adding to the mystery of what happened. Likewise, the survivor is alternatingly uncommunicative and incoherent, open to interpretation of what really happened and how he was involved.

    For this style of storytelling--where you're told what happened, not shown--the film is pretty good. Tension builds as everyone interprets the vague evidence according to their own biases. As the documentary tries to unravel what really happened, each revelation is even more horrific. I kept thinking, "I can't wait to find out what really caused this!" Unfortunately, I never did. My rating is 8 for most of the film but 2 for the ending.
  • This film started out well and I'll have to say it looks close to a usual documentary. However the story lags and leaves too many unanswered questions to be as good as it could have been. An average film.
  • A brilliant found footage zombie film. The true-crime style documentary approach is terrific and the acting is strong. The 36 photos that the movie is based on are creepy and disturbing. Fantastic film.
  • Diluted pseudo-doc that leans heavily on ominous music and blurry photography to hint at awful activities on the Arizona/Mexico border. It tries to present itself as a hard hitting expose doc, complete with iconoclastic investigative reporter, but it's flat and lame because we know it's all phony and there isn't much success at suspending the sense of disbelief. When we finally get glimpses of what really happened it all looks very high school play, and you will roll your eyes in disappointment.

    The pic also tries to be a statement about US discrimination against Mexican immigrants but the analogy is a bit heavy handed and not very thoughtfully presented.

    All that aside, and that's a lot to try to put aside, this amateurish production commits the cardinal offense for a horror movie: it's not in the least bit scary and is deeply boring.

    My sense from the IMDb rating that suckered me into renting this is that it was logrolled by people involved in the production. I'm sure as more people see it and roll their eyes the rating will come down but in the meantime, don't make my mistake.
  • Sometimes the trailers lie...not this time. For some reason, this movie took some digging to find, a part from its trailers. As far as this sub-genre goes, this movie will be hard to top. I usually fast forward or pause a film, not this time. Not quite a mystery. More like a puzzle that someone keeps handing you pieces of, and even after you can see the basic shape, the pieces keep coming faster.

    By my usual 3 categories; story, acting, effects. 1, The story was interest all round. From how it was told; using video interviews, photos, and lastly a clip of found video, and point of view. Pacing was near perfect as we are carried a long. Skillfully put together. 2, the acting was really well done, very believable, no over acting. 3, effects. How do I explain this without spoilers? There is a definite art to what is clearly shown and what is indistinct, hinted at, in a horror movie. This balance was masterfully achieved in this movie. There are no big budget effects. In truth only one small snippet of live action at the end. Mostly its done with B&W photographs taken by the main character. 30 some photos that will leave you very uncomfortable. This film has a great sense of realism. The movie ends, but the story goes on.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A good faux documentary about a zombie attack that wipes out a small town in Arizona, after which a Mexican immigrant who photographs and survives the nightmare is scapegoated for the massacre by racist officials, who dismiss the photos as a hoax. The film's depiction of Arizona's racist rubes as, well, racist rubes, is spot on.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I will warn you before I include anything that could spoil the plot for you, so read on without worry:

    SAVAGELAND is a convincing and effective documentary style horror movie with some fantastic twists, quietly infused political commentary, and a high creep factor. The entire population of a small southern border town is discovered brutally murdered, with the exception of one man: an illegal immigrant with a reputation for being a drifter with the questionable past-time of taking photographs picturing dead animals and a particular young girl. The local authorities and citizens of neighboring towns immediately jump to what might seem an obvious conclusion (depending on your beliefs about undocumented migrants and their tendency to commit violence.) that the man is clearly guilty of this horrific mass murder. But when a roll of film shot that night is discovered it points to events no one seems willing to accept.

    SAVAGELAND does not fit the standard "horror movie" mold; aside from the many bloody crime scene photos, there is no violence, but that's much of what makes it so great- it's an engrossing, slowly unfolding, undeniably creepy story about the events that may or may not have taken place that night.

    I am a seasoned horror fan who has grown tired of the same lame plot line they feed us over and over ad nauseum... "A group of teens/college students/friends spend the night in a cabin/an abandoned mental hospital/the woods. They party/have sex/take showers until they're picked off one by one by a ghost/monster/madman." SAVAGELAND gives you a much better story than that, if you can live without the boobs and gore.

    In closing, I recommend that you DO NOT read the other reviews here, they unintentionally ruined big parts of the story for me, and I wonder how much better it could have been if I had gone in clueless.

    NOW FOR THE SPOILERS (LOOK AWAY!):

    Wow! What clever twists in this movie! I love how slowly you begin to question who or what the real killers might be. I also want to give HUGE props to the writers for subtly revealing that the writer- who you assumed had figured out the truth- actually blamed the KKK. Everybody in the movie accused the wrong people: people that they already had a bias against... I can see this actually happening in the US as we are now (sadly) the zombies take out an entire town and we all stand around pointing fingers at each other. WELL DONE!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This film starts and plays out like a typical true crime documentary and is paced as one, starting by placing us directly into the post-crime situation; a man named Francisco Salazar is accused of wiping out an entire tiny town Sangre de Cristo of 57 people overnight on the Mexican border.

    The cast of characters being interviewed include some usual types, including experts, friends/family members, relatives of victims, the racist white sheriff, the racist radio host, and random loudmouth idiots on the street with racist opinions. In my opinion, this framing device is played up a bit much, to the degree that it strains a bit of credulity in the face of the photographs.

    The build-up we get for Salazar is incoherent, with brief snippets talking about Mexican gangs and cartels, "La Raza", and how supposedly Salazar perfectly fits the archetype of a serial killer. This would all be fine if not for the fact that it's either not at all hinted at later on, or else directly contradicted by the later on interview.

    Pure racism is the driving force behind the crusade against him, driven on mercilessly by the sleazy racist sheriff and the incessantly annoying racist radio host like a southwestern rush Limbaugh, who plays up the ultra-conservative hateful bigot to a degree that may be painfully realistic, but severely detracts from the narrative at times.

    we're shown Salazar being convicted after being assigned an inept public defender only on his third case, and at a second trial we're introduced to a crucial aspect of the story that changes everything; a camera.

    Suddenly we're introduced to the "real" Francisco Salazar; someone in no way related to "La Raza" or any Mexican gang or cartel. Someone who is a photographer who did odd jobs in Sangre de Cristo and was friends with the local priest and his family. We also get ahold of footage of an interview conducted with him, in which the story of what actually happened unfolds.

    Via interviews with relatives of the dead, the racist white sheriff, the experts, and snippets from the interview with Salazar himself, as well as maps, we then go over Salazar's journey through Sangre de Cristo, where it becomes almost certain to us that a zombie outbreak has occurred. We get no unrealistic glimpses of the events aside from black and white still images taken by Salazar at the time it happened. I don't know how the camera worked or why the images came out oddly at times, with lots of unusual blurs, but it only served to further enhance the creepiness and unsettling nature, as many of the figures in the photograph don't look blatantly like the stereotypical zombie, but nevertheless just look wrong, sometimes horribly so.

    The journey Salazar takes goes from him walking south, out of town, to him ending up running up in a roughly straight line north through town, photographing all along the way. The photographs are flawless in evoking horror and creepiness without being over the top or too expository. The zombie motif is evident in Salazar's descriptions, while the photographs seem to start adding to them, making for some scenes of "zombies" behaving smarter than the usual zombie, or with faces that are absolutely demonic.

    the photographs are so magnificent that they carry the entire movie.

    The only problem I have, which seems relatively major, is that the topic of the photographs is brought up during the second trial, but is inexplicably ruled inadmissible in court. No explanation is given why, and the inept public defender doesn't even bother fighting it.

    The racist white sheriff uses the "they're photoshopped" excuse, but the insane level of detail in many of the photographs makes them undeniably real. Even if the "zombies" could arguably be considered photoshopped, the photographs very clearly show that it is not Francisco Salazar who is attacking and killing the subjects, but a large group of other people attacking and killing them.

    The word "zombie" is never spoken or mentioned in any way, nor is the subject of zombies broached by any of the experts or defenders of Salazar. Even the psychological expert guy tries to imply at the end that the town massacre was another in a long line of historical riots and assaults on communities of color likely orchestrated by white supremacist types.

    ultimately, this is a rather unique take on the Zombie genre, and the gorgeously haunting photographs do much to elevate this film.
  • Here's the theory, the scariest yet beautiful place in this whole universe is our imagination., and this movie will help us to prove this theory. Found footage/documentary, since blair witch project and paranormal activity was dominated horror genre in recent year, but it was hard to mention a good one , either it was too cliche, repetitive, meaningless or as simply as didn't scary at all. With all my disappointed, then, i decided to give it a go with this movie. i was expecting a few teenager, using their camera, drone, google glass, will make a stupid trip into a haunted land, and they got eaten or killed one by one by a ghost, which is recorded on camera. But, this movie didn't deliver this. it was just series of interview about what happened in some little town which lost all of its resident in one night. there's no ghost. monsters, serial killer caught on cams, really... if there's no explanation, that it was a movie, maybe some of us would believe it was a real events. without no well-known actor, i felt that i watched some real interview. but, the best part was not about the concept. but how this movie played our imagination, what really happened in those town is reveals by the series of chronological interview, and that made me imagine the tragedy that killed 52 persons. there's no explanation about what's really happened, but it was just happens. i didn't think i ever watched similar movie. it has no jump scare moment, cheap CGI, disturbing score, or even a protagonist, but i didn't need it to enjoy a movie as a whole package. kudos!!
  • I guess that's too many genres for one movie, but I think they're all accurate. The story revolves around an apparent spree-killing in a tiny, destitute Arizona border town near Nogales, Mx. The main suspect is also an amatuer photog and though not initially found, when a roll of film that he had taken during the entire night of the killings is developed, the story takes on a much darker tone. I have a soft spot in my heart for low budget horror films, but this one really is pretty high quality. Only one or two of the actors couldn't pull off the doc/reality part (the sherriff being the most annoying of them). There is a bit of a twist at the end, when one of the characters' book is published, and a "cover-up" is potentially revealed, but for the most part this fizzles at the end unfortunately. Over all, it's really well done for the resources they had, and the photo vs video aspect of the found "footage" was unique and really something I hadn't seen before. If you like "The Bay" but weren't really into the heavy-handedness and lack of "fright" you may just like this a lot.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Yeah so I rented this after I read the reviews and I'm kinda bummed I did. It wasn't terrible but not worth the $5. Basically this is a documentary style movie about a town invaded by zombies (?) and it has some social commentary about the racism against immigrants, and the failure of our judicial system in cases that people want an easy scapegoat , and are too lazy to think outside the box . It's not a bad film. But it's also not a horror movie . There is no scary parts. There is nothing here except the subject matter and the loose assumption we come to about zombies, but even that is not entirely clear. So my suggesting is to rent another movie called "The Girl with all the Gifts" which is worth the price of a rental at least and wait to watch this one for free, or support independent film and watch it. It's interesting , it's just not a horror or a zombie film, which is what it's marketed as.. so that's the main problem. They should have marketed it properly and it would be more worth it, and not as disappointing. The acting is pretty good with the exception of the truck driver and a few of the other smaller parts .. with this style movie, the acting has to be top notch to make it truly believable . I thought they could have made this really really good. With more detailed photographs and more footage of the massacre and also not really ever having a conclusion made it worse than it had to be. I kept expecting the zombies or whatever they were ( we never find out for sure ) to attack another town. I was really waiting for that radio host to get eaten. I think that would have made this so much better. Have all the jerks that thought he killed them all get attacked and the documentary crew start filming that, the new attacks and then re-evaluating the verdict and all that. I guess this way is more realistic but who wants too much reality when it's boring and frustrating,right? I mean , this is why we watch movies. To escape the crap of the USA.
  • I was really intrigued by this movie. The premise is great and especially with our current political climate in 2018, this feels like and amazing idea. However all it was... was a boring story about nothing. I was so bummed out... maybe the last 15 seconds offered a glimpse of what happened? I was watching this after hours and it was so boring I opened my work laptop and decided to work on the side. THAT is how boring it felt.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Plenty of people have reviewed this movie so I'll cut to the chase. Most people seem to think it's a zombie movie or the 'creatures' are unexplained. The creatures are people. They are the rednecks of the town on a blood rampage to get rid of those Mexican 'illegals' from their God given town. The photos are shaky because Salazar was running when he took them. With it being night time there no clear shots (so as to keep the fear factor rising). Near the end there are images of the photos mixed with Klan pictures which kind of gives the game away. Most of the Caucasian townspeople have hatred towards the Mexicans and I guess they got drunk one night and decided to take care of business. The smug racist sheriff ensured that Salazar would be the scapegoat and with that racist POS at the radio station encouraging the racism, people thought they had done right and that it served the illegal in jail right to take the fall for the murders. So yeah, I believe it was Klan fans that were the 'monsters'.
  • There was absolutely nothing horrific in this horror movie except a couple pictures with some smudged zombie looking faces. You get lost wondering if it's a documentary about racism or the worst movie ever about zombies and I have no idea how people are giving this movie eights and nines for their rating
  • Unlike the fake 9 and 10/10 reviews, I'll keep it honest and give it a 6. Interesting story and the images are indeed creepy. The problem is, at about 30 minutes in, it's like alright cool, we get the point..now what? What's the twist or turning point gonna be? Well, there's not one. It just continues the same formula..talk, interview, show a couple more scary photos, reinforcing what we already know, and repeat. Over and over. The best way I could describe this is as a one trick pony. You could turn it off after 30 minutes and you'd have gotten the story, minus a few other creepy pics.

    I love found footage movies so I'll throw it a 6/10. I can't see traditional viewers enjoying it. **The best part of the movie is an enlightening statement made by a photographer they're interviewing. He talks about the false sense of security you get when looking at scary events through a lens as it makes you feel detached and safe. A great point..logic that should apply to found footage films..kill that whole "why is he still filming complaint
  • Warning: Spoilers
    SAVAGELAND plays out as a very realistic documentary depicting the aftermath of one night on the Mexican border in which an entire town of people just disappeared, leaving only blood trails behind them. What's interesting about this one is that it features BLAIR WITCH-style levels of disquiet, as it's very convincing and feels just like a 'proper' documentary. The main problem with it is that it's all set-up, building to a pay-off that never really comes despite hints of greatness here and there.
  • Is it real? Or is it Memorex? Remember those ads?

    This movie was a hoot! I loved it. We are treated to a documentary of a massacre in Southern-My-State and we have to put the PIECES together as we watch. You Bastards!

    To those close to me, many know I am not the biggest fan of the state I reside in: Arizona and yet, I love movies about our desert towns. A couple of my favorites that come to mind are: Psycho, Eight Legged Freaks (which was filmed about 1 mile from where I live) and Sicario, just to name a few. I might just add this one to the list if I see it again.

    Basically, this documentary shows a small, border town between Mexico and Arizona that was literally wiped out in an all-but heartbeat. One suspect and he's captured fairly easily. Now comes the public opinion.

    I am totally guilty of this; I see the Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby stories and bam, they're convicted without the justice system. Is this right? By all means, no and that's why I call myself "guilty." Now, in my defense, some leaks where they admit their wrongdoing or evidence so overwhelming that they're anything but guilty. (In the case of our current president, he's on the admitting end, but still was elected. That's a whole 'nother argument...)

    Anyhoo, this man is found guilty by public opinion for the deaths of everyone in this very small town and we see both sides on his plight. As the documentary evolves, the broader story emerges and you will see what this man had to endure when he was amongst the deaths of all of his friends/townsfolk.

    I was engaged and I didn't want to read more about the making of this movie or the behind the scenes. In fact, the information I gave you was the brief synopsis I was provided. I urge you to do the same. Go in as cold as I did and if you're a fan of the ultimate result, you will adore this incredible take on this horror subgenre. You will not be let down...as long as you keep an open mind as I did.

    ***

    Final thoughts: Sure, this hit close to home for me (living in Glendale, an adjacent suburb of the capital of Arizona,) but I think this will be relevant to the rest of the country...and said president who wants to build a wall to "protect us." Well, mostly to build votes and admiration, but he claims it's for protection.

    Only, it certainly wouldn't have helped here.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Well, well, finally a decent fake documentary! I read the reviews here before putting a movie on my watch list, but most of time I still watch it anyway then make my own decision. The story unfolded in supernatural thrill ride...kinda wished it was more movie like, just to see the whole story play out; that is why I gave it a 8. When others claimed it ended with nothing, I disagree, this reminded me of Legion; demon or angel possession not zombies. Totally unexpected to say the least.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Slow...very slow, but worth a watch.

    A very different take on zombie films and though this movie leaves a lot to be desired, a definite "A" for effort.

    Loads of plot holes and I really don't understand the lack of cast listing.

    This film is listed here on the IMDb, so it's obviously not real footage, so the lack of listing of ALL cast members is not only a disservice to them, but extremely frustrating.

    Some trivia on parts of the film that were actually interesting, would have been wonderful.

    Such as, the town. Was it a real town, possibly abandoned? It looked like it and being a film maker myself, trivia is always an important part of helping immerse a viewer in the world you're creating.

    More explanation into how the border zombies came to be and less on the survivor, would have helped.

    As I said...great concept, good movie...but needed a LOT of help to see its full potential.
  • chaznewby29 August 2018
    1/10
    WTF?
    This B rated film is a joke at best. All we need is another Zombie movie? FFS! The story is absolutely ridiculous, and the acting is weak. I don't see how this movie is getting good reviews. This film should be scrapped.
  • Firstly.. don't listen to the haters.. Second.. don't watch this movie if you are not a fan of found footage or mocumentries. If you don't enjoy those genres then do us fans a favor and spare us another bad review.

    This was a great example of a 'moco'. Let down slightly by some patchy acting but other than that it was an original take on a very used up theme. I wont spoil it for you if you haven't read the reviews and if you haven't then I recommend going in blind.

    If you have read the other reviews then I agree that the viewer is let in on what was going on a little earlier than needed. I disagree that the movie wasn't creepy and was slow.

    If you like found footage and mocumentries you will like this one.
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