FilmHorror Movies

Review: DO NOT WATCH (Unnamed Footage Festival)

UNNAMED FOOTAGE FESTIVAL is officially underway in San Francisco. It is an entire film festival dedicated to screening Found Footage horror (and adjacent) films until the 31st of March. You love some, you hate some, but at the end of the day, Found Footage, whether it be faux documentaries or cameras that somehow people are still able to hold onto while running for their lives, is one of the most creative ways to tell a story. 

Screening this Saturday 30th, is a film kept tightly under wraps, possibly due to it being supernatural infohazard: DO NOT WATCH, from director Justin Janowitz. This Found Footage horror with a Russian nesting doll of a plot is seriously cool. Janowitz, writer Ryan Toyama and editor Tyler L. Cook have created a completely new vision for the narrative device of ‘Cursed Footage’. An enthralling and intricate exploration of faux-documentary as a medium- it stretches the mechanics of the ‘Found’ and finds it to be excitingly elastic.  

Discovered on an abandoned hard drive as a single file labelled “DO NOT WATCH,” an unseen ‘Editor’ has already constructed a film surrounding the disappearance of a post-production crew working on mysterious research Footage. It is a cautionary tale of madness and mystery interwoven across three timelines made with 80s VHS tapes, self-recordings from missing persons, and investigative documentary making.

This mysterious editor’s omnipresence grows increasingly tangible and insane. Their strange distortions and additions feel like following dangerous clues into the mystery of the story. DO NOT WATCH takes us on more of an ARG experience than simply a thrilling film. You aren’t just watching this movie—it’s watching you back! It is an intensely creepy experience. I hope everyone who sees this in the cinema gets the terrifying feeling of being singled out—a totally new way of digesting a film.

DO NOT WATCH may be bridging the gap between traditional film and the interactive, internet culture of ‘analog horror’. It’s pretty cool to think that a film like this shows us the way forward for Found Footage horror if it embraces breaking the 4th wall.

Call me a brain-warped horror fan (and proud!), but it was so exciting watching this friendly post-production crew on a downward spiral into complete paranoia and insanity as they succumb to ‘the bunker anomaly.’ My sadistic joy is all thanks to fantastic, superbly unhinged, all-out performances from the entire cast.  Another reason to ignore all warnings and see DO NOT WATCH. Another shout-out to editor Tyler L. Cook: DO NOT WATCH reminds us to consider the hard work of editors when discussing the films we love.

DO NOT WATCH never has a dull moment as we are either getting freaked out or sucked into this story within a story within a story (or both of these simultaneously). This movie rules. Is March too early to start a best of ‘24 list? DO NOT WATCH plays at 7 pm on the 30th at the Balboa Theatre as a part of Unnamed Footage Festival.

“An enthralling and intricate exploration of faux-documentary as a medium- it stretches the mechanics of the ‘Found’ and finds it to be excitingly elastic”

5 tombstones out of 5…
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Erin Grant

Erin Grant

Erin has been writing about films for Fear Forever since 2017; to say she is passionate is an understatement. You can find her in Sydney, Australia, where she lives on a steady diet of horror movies whilst perpetually being in the middle of a film degree.
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