Jack Hunter's Paranoia Tapes 3 & 4: Sire - Jack Hunter's Paranoia Tapes 3 & 4 (DVD) [Shami Media Group - 2019]Here’s a region free DVD release that brings together parts three & four of the Jake Hunter found-footage series Paranoia Tapes - but don’t be put off by not having seen the early parts- as this series really is a series of seemingly stand alone stories- using different casts & set-ups. The disc has a playtime of 162 minutes, with the quality moving competent-if- a little uneven, to sadly down-right clichéd and unbelievable- and that, of course, is the thing with found footage as a genre, you have to believe (to some extent) in what’s unfolding on the screen.
So the two films we have here are Paranoia Tapes 3:Siren, and Paranoia Tapes 4:Kennel House- both are from 2018, and both are written/ directed by Jack Saint Hunter- in all he has eleven writing credits, and nine directorial since 2008- so he’s certainly prolific, though one does feel possibly- on the evidence of the lesser moments in these two films, that he’s rather churning them out.Roger Batty
So first up we have Paranoia Tapes 3:Siren- and the main story here finds a group of small-town American school teen buddies trying to find a theme for their school project, and deciding to focus on their town’s legend of creepy woodland children who are meant to lure away those who see them. The young cast here are likable enough- and it is certain is some talent here, as they seem(mostly) believable. The film begins fairly Blair Witch lite, with the teens getting together rough facts about the legend then going out to the woods- but instead of getting lost for good, after some panic & one of their number getting attacked they find their way home. Then after looking at the footage & strange anomalies go back out the next day, before returning for a sort of more demonic/ creepy child take on the Paranormal Activity. This main story runs around the forty-five- to- fifty-minute mark, the remainder of the just over one and a half-hour film is taken up by other shorter stories & a linking segment. The linking segment/ wrap-around is a crazy guy/ killer who collets tapes…these move from semi unnerving-to-very overdone. Then the film is topped off with two short stories- we have one about two pre-teen girls & their father, who conjure up a demon ala Pharnomal Activity- this is very badly acted/ put together. And Lastly, we get a group of teen friends going out to the woods to get high, then get attacked by something- again this is a bad/ unbelievable re-run of Blair Witch, and the acting here is really atrocious. So the first film is very mixed.
Next up we, of course, have Paranoia Tapes 4:Kennel House- this runs at the hour and eighteen mark. The whole starts up with the crazy intro guy from the last film(maybe this is Jake Hunter?), and now there is a grainy yellow gray filter on his footage- once again he’s somewhat forced/ overdone in his craziness- but thankfully the intro doesn’t last long. The first story is the Kennel House, and unusual for a genre that normally focuses in on US-based footage, this is British base- it introduces two late teens/ early twenties, males. The footage opens with the pair in their back garden – talking about a young girl who has disappeared in their local village, fairly soon they off to interview a shop owner about the case, before rolling up at an abanded house in the countryside…I won’t detail much beyond this, but it starts off like interesting enough urban explore footage with a slightly creepy twist, before later on turning a lot darker- both figuratively and literally. This first story runs around the fifty minute mark, and is certainly the best of both films thus far.
The second story is rather bizarrely entitled None- which doesn’t seem to have a lot to do with the footage, which finds a group of older brit teens watching a house across the street getting broken into by someone or something- then they get noticed by the intruder. This isn’t bad either, it lasts around twenty minutes & managers to build up a fair bit of tension and anticipation.
The third & final( save a few clips) is Lair of The Vampire- this sees us back in the US, with two twenty-something men who go on a hike, and by nighttime the encounter guess what?, a vampire- of the three stories on this film, this is the weakest, really lacking any tension & atmosphere. On the Paranoia Tapes 4:Kennel House is certainly the better of the two films presented here.
Ever since the first Blair Witch film I’ve had a soft spot for the found footage genre- so I’m always keen to see new additions to the genre- even if they are a little mixed in quilty, and it’s certainly fair to say this DVD is very much mixed. I’d say if you are a fan of the genre- then give at least the second film a go, as I think you’ll at least enjoy one or two of the stories, but sadly most of the first film is focusing in on the more lackluster & clichéd side of the found-footage form.