The St. Francisville Experiment (2000) – By Mark Hite

The year was 1999 when the cinematic debauchery known as the Blair Witch Project came out. I can recall going into the theater with great expectations. People everywhere were buzzing about how the film was the ‘true’ story of a few youngsters lost in the woods. I was able to get into the first five minutes but slowly I found disbelief no longer suspended. I don’t know if it was the morons sitting next to me who brought a whiny infant to the show. Or maybe it was the shaky camera angles that made me feel like I had a concussion. Whatever it was, I realized that BWP was nothing but a sucky amateur improve movie. I swore never to fall for such rubbish like this ever again.

As the saying goes, history can easily repeat itself.

Years later in 2005, I began to hear rumors of this great film called The St. Francisville Experiment made in 2000. This film supposedly featured ‘real’ footage from a group of youngster’s filming supernatural events in a haunted house. Eager to find out if these rumors were true, I found myself taking it out of the local video store. What an idiot I turned out to be.

The film starts out believably enough with the story of an evil countess who supposedly tortured her slaves. She moved into a huge mansion one day and it is said the evil continues to this day in ghost form. We get introduced to the main characters who are in fact going to be spending a night in the mansion. There is Madison the psychic, Troy the ghost historian, history student Ryan, and their leader Paul. I found myself buying into the fact that I could actually be watching a real life documentary on ghost sightings. However when the group arrives at the mansion, suspension of disbelief left the building once again.

Immediately the characters lose their real life believability in the first five minutes. Madison (who I was actually hoping the ‘ghosts’ would kill by the end of the movie) starts her garbage about how the team must make peace with the spirits in the mansion first. She spends the rest of the movie trying to do half ass exorcisms on the mansion. Troy picks up the damsel in distress role very nicely and immediately takes up constant whimpering. Ryan tries desperately to be the comic relief in the film but fails miserably. As for Paul, he wanders around acting more like Shaggy than Fred as their leader through this terror.

Part of the pure nail biting ‘terror’;

1.) A cat jumping out of a closet.

2.) A baby doll wrapped up mummy style.

3.) A chair, very much like the one you may be sitting on, goes flying across the attic.

4.) A chandelier crashes while other lights flicker on and off.

5.) A ‘ghost’ talking on a Ouji Board.

All of these wonderful frightening moments are accompanied by the stereotypical BWP shaky camcorder angles. The most commonly used term in the movie was “what was that” which never led to an answer as to what “that” was. The film has little to no suspense and the small amount it does possess usually leaves the viewer in the dust. What we are left with is nothing but a gigantic BWP rip off that was looking to cash in with it’s amateur style.

Although the film really has no point, it is by far more entertaining than BWP. That of corse is not saying a whole heck of a lot. If you want pure real life terror, you’re better off to watch a Travel Channel special on haunted places. Very much like BWP, you are not going to find any kind of real life terror in this so called documentary. Well maybe aside from the acting. As for this reviewer, I think I will stick to films with a professional camera crew that don’t claim to have monumental real life footage. To quote the immortal words of The Who; “We don’t get fooled again”.