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The Wicksboro Incident

Wicksboro Incident, The (2003) Movie Poster
USA  •    •  71m  •    •  Directed by: Richard Lowry.  •  Starring: Bobby Harwell, Dan Brinkle, Kyle Nudo, David A. Arnold, Philip Brickey, Carolyn Mejia.  •  Music by: Richard Lowry.
      In 1953 the entire population of Wicksboro, Texas vanishes. Forty five years later a witness comes out of hiding to tell the story.

Trailers:

   Length:  Languages:  Subtitles:
 1:17
 
 

Review:

Image from: Wicksboro Incident, The (2003)
Image from: Wicksboro Incident, The (2003)
Image from: Wicksboro Incident, The (2003)
Image from: Wicksboro Incident, The (2003)
In the years since it took the internet and America by storm, it's become somewhat fashionable to bash The Blair Witch Project. I'm not sure if it's anger from people who were actually fooled by it, the backlash that happens to anything that ascends from geeknerd niche entertainment to mainstream acclaim or maybe folks were just soured by that horrible, horrible sequel. But it's fairly common for The Blair Witch Project to get belittled now, as though it was never any good in the first place. Well, anyone who does that should be forced to watch The Wicksboro Incident, because it will remind them of how good The Blair Witch Project really was.

Another pseudo-documentary shot with hand held video cameras, The Wicksboro Incident contains almost every flaw typical to its genre. It also demonstrates how much visceral power this style of storytelling can have. And it's one of the few hand held video movies that won't give you motion sickness.

The film starts out in 1998 Los Angeles with an old man being interviewed in what looks like a seedy motel room from the 1960s. Lloyd (Bobby Harnell) is telling the story of how he and some other guys who were working on a project back in the 1950s to improve the "radar range" managed to invent a device that could receive brain waves. As he tells his story, these black and white images and intercut with Lloyd's narration, like one of those shows on The History Channel or something. Lloyd and the other guys get scooped up by the government and put to work doing something undefined with the device at a tiny Texas town called Wicksboro. One day, while Lloyd is working on the device, he discovers everyone else in the town has disappeared without a trace.

That sent Lloyd into hiding, though it's not exactly clear why that seemed like a good idea to him at the time, until he somehow hooked up with two guys making a documentary about UFOs. Their names are Mike (Dan Brinkle) and Gary (Kyle Nudo). Mike has a wife and kid. Gary has a dad living somewhere else. We never really find out another darn thing about these guys. Why they're making a documentary, why it's about UFOs, how and why they decided to get involved with Lloyd...these are questions the film never answers or seemingly ever thinks about.

Anyway, after hearing Lloyd's theories about aliens infiltrating the planet and seeing him show off his alien detection device, Gary and Mike decide to go with Lloyd to the town of Wicksboro. Why they think that's a good idea is never made clear. But even though they can't find the town on any map of Texas, they all pile in a car and go looking for it. I'm just going to sketch out the rest of the plot, because if you make it this far through this movie without dying of boredom, you deserve to appreciate the very, very few surprises that happen in the rest of the story. Anyway, our three heroes head to Texas, become the targets of the least competent and cheapest conspiracy you can imagine, terrible things happen to two of heroes and the last is left to try and escape with the camera and tapes that don't actually prove anything except that Lloyd, Gary and Mike aren't that bright.

Let me note that there are two good things about this movie. There is one genuinely shocking scene, though its startle factor may be enhanced by how unrelentingly dull the rest of the film is, and when the movie is down to just one guy running around with a hand held video camera while the sound track plays scary music, it generates some cheap dramatic tension. It completely shatters the suspension of disbelief to have scary music playing on the soundtrack of what is supposed to be real video of actual events, so I suppose The Wicksboro Incident is most compelling when it's as stupid and cheesy as it can get.

As for the bad, let me count the ways. This film is boring, with long stretches of nothing punctuated by events that don't make much sense. These characters never really discover any secret or uncover any hidden truth or film anything they shouldn't see. The dialog is flat. The acting is mediocre at best. The story has no focus, starting out as a supposed documentary about Lloyd and then turning into a "running through the wilderness with a camera" story that's mainly about Gary and Mike, who are never anything more than ciphers. And there's really no point to this movie being shot with hand held video, except it was simply the cheapest way for them to make this film. Oh, and apparently these filmmakers got almost to the end of their production before they realized they didn't actually have an ending for their movie. So, they blatantly rip off the confessional scene from The Blair Witch Project and fade to black.

Let me conclude by saying about The Wicksboro Incident what I've said about other "real video" movies. Before you watch this, make sure and rent a film called Video X. That movie is both entertaining and an outstanding example of "real video" film-making, two things I cannot say about this film.


Review by MBunge from the Internet Movie Database.