other things

tv shows, web video, short films, GBA video releases
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The Forbidden Files is one of the earliest examples of found-footage horror, coming out in 1989, the same year as UFO Abduction (The McPherson Tape). It's a series of 13 short films intended to be shown on TV made by the artist Jean-Teddy Filippe. The films are mostly styled in an almost documentary way; videos have voiceover in different languages, and then dubbed again in English. The narrator describes straightforward what is happening, and what is unknown about each case. Military divers watch as one of their own is drowned by a man found floating in the ocean. A TV crew goes to a house for a live interview and somehow gets lost inside. A stalker kidnaps his target, who strongly resembles him, and replaces the man in his life. Each one is so short that as it piques your interest, the details are already getting thin. It never overstays its welcome, and leaves the viewer with a cold, detached confusion that can never be satisfied.

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If I could describe anything in the world as criminally underrated, it'd be Nirvanna the Band. A webshow (2007-2009), a 30-minute TV show (2017-2018[?]) and soon to be a feature film (!!!), Nirvanna the Band follows two adult children as they try desperately to get their band booked at the Rivoli in Toronto. In actuality, if they wrote a few songs and recorded them, they could probably get the show. However they're more interested in improvising ridiculous scenes in their house, and coming up with "schemes" to get themselves noticed by the Rivoli (none of those "schemes" involve writing and recording a song).

It's kind of hard to describe everything that makes NtB special. Firstly, the show is shot guerrilla style in Toronto, without permits or permission. If they talk to someone on the street, it's just some random person. If they need to record in a library, they sneak the camera into the library. Or a business. Or a hospital. Essentially, it's a sitcom happening in the real world.

Second, the pop-culture obsessed characters are constantly referencing and recreating scenes and music from TV and films, so the show parodies a lot of iconic media. These parodies are woven so intricately into the episodes that they're able to get away with "free use" in absolutely mindboggling ways. Free use lets them use clips and music from Jurassic Park, Wahlburgers (one of my favorite episodes), even fucking Star Wars. They sneak a camera into a Star Wars premiere so part of the episode becomes a camrip of Star Wars.

Third, since it's shot guerrilla style and the crew is so small, it means that when the show reveals its writing chops, it's not only surprising but impressive. When what you thought were improvised jokes come back as major plot points, it's immediately engaging since you don't expect it. As such a small production, they can rewrite and reshoot easily to make plots, jokes, or parodies stronger. And since so much of it is "real," when it breaks from that it's just captivating. You're never quite sure if they're talking to a passerby or an actor, if they're trespassing or if they have permission to be there. So when crazy things happen (like, for instance, the side of a building catching fire) it suddenly makes the show feel so much grander.

So go find it and watch it, it's criminally underrated. (note there can be some edgy humor especially in the webseries)

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