Long-time readers of this blog know my love for found-footage films. The Blair Witch project remains one of my favorite movies, and I get a shudder of joy every time I find another flick, be it Grave Encounters or any of the 213 installments of Paranormal Activity. (I tend to leave the August Underground films alone, though — there’s creepy, and then there’s sick, sad, disgusting, and wrong.)
I am also a huge documentary fan. I watch Nova, Secrets of the Dead, and all the “murder porn” (as the good Hubster calls it) that Investigation Discovery can toss my way. I’ve practically watched the documentary section of Netflix dry.
Then there are movies like The Atticus Institute.
What it’s NOT is a “found footage” movie, it’s a Mockumentary. “Found footage” is a flick made up of found recordings by a third party upon discovery of said recordings, whereas a “mockumentary” is a flick that follows the rules of your standard documentary — old footage, present-time talking heads, and the ubiquitous on-screen captions. You could also throw in a recreation or two. Think Spinal Tap, Waiting for Guffman, and the other great Christopher Guest movies. Got the difference? Good.
So that being said, I automatically enjoyed this movie more than it probably deserves, being so delighted with such a genre. The Atticus Institute follows the story of a psi-kinetic lab in the mid 1970’s, and details the events surrounding a subject, Judith Winstead (played by Rya Kihlstedt, above) as studied by Dr. Henry West (William Mapother, also above, who also could pass for Nathan Fillion’s cousin). It is found the Judith possesses (pun intended) powers beyond your normal psi-kinetic stuff that go into truly terrifying, so much so that the army has to show up and therefore blow it all to hell, literally, figuratively, pun intended, all of the above.
The “1970’s footage” is done well enough that it could possibly even show up on an installment of In Search of … and I’d buy it. The “talking heads” are believable for the most part, except when the actors decided to act. It happens.
So yeah, I liked it. I never did learn why it was called the Atticus Institute, though. I mean, Atticus was a Greek Platonist philosopher who basically said that if you go against the word of the “master” – whomever you deemed your master to be – you were an irredeemable heretic. There was also Atticus, the Christian soldier burned at the stake in Turkey in 315. Atticus is also Gregory Peck. (or vice-versa.) Atticus is also a pretty decent band from Knoxville. Take your pick, I guess.