Film: Family Nightmare (2011) – HotDocs Capsule Review

May 3, 2012 | By

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Film: Very Good / DVD Transfer: n/a/ DVD Extras: n/a

Label: n/a/ Region: n/a / Released: n/a

Genre: Mockumentary / Short Film / Found Footage

Synopsis: A variant in the found footage & mockumentary sub-genres deals with a creepy Xmas captured on vintage home video gear.

Special Features: n/a




It’s a moot point whether family videos are inherently creepy due to the unguarded moments behind closed doors, or Dustin Guy Defa’s family is just a little off-centre, because amid the hours of naked, rambling footage taken by any family’s dedicated ‘archivist,’ there are moments which could be stitched together into a surreal narrative. Add a new dub track to accentuate inferences and innuendos, and what you may have is a short narrative about a really creepy family Xmas in the wretched mullet and perm-haired nineties.

Defa’s short has a baby fondling a knife, a barely sinewy grandma chain-smoking in the background, and female relatives touching themselves up-top, and it’s all amusing and mildly unsettling. The novelty of redubbed voices (performed & digitally altered by Defa) and new dialogue enhances the creepy factor – the men watching porn, the women getting hammered – and fans of ‘found footage’ will welcome the vintage tube camera look which makes Family Nightmare a kind of archival portal into strange family behaviour we know is still ongoing in every household, regardless with / without a nearby camera.



© 2012 Mark R. Hasan


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