Friday, December 1, 2006
St. Francisville Experiment (2000)
If you want to see what would have happened if The Blair Witch Project was set in a haunted house, this is your movie! The faux documentary about chasing down ghosts based on an infamous New Orleans legend reeks of a Blair Witch rip-off.
A producer sets up four strangers to spend the night in the LaLaurie mansion to record any paranormal activity. The legend of Madame LaLaurie is infamous and is one of the many famous ghost stories from New Orleans. Madame LaLaurie was a very rich, very wicked woman that performed crude medical experiments on her slaves while keeping them chained up. She peeled off the skin tissue of one young boy, leaving the muscle tissue exposed so that it became infected. One woman's joints were all broken and she was forced into a cage too small for a large dog. Her joints reset at hideous angles so that when she was pulled out of the cage she resembled a crab more than a human. Another man had what appeared to be a botched sex change operation. Blood and body parts in jars were all over the room. All these slaves had been chained up in the attic of the LaLaurie mansion and were discovered when a fire broke out in the house. Before Madame LaLaurie could be arrested, she had already escaped. She was never caught. More and more atrocities were discovered, but many victims' bodies were never recovered. To this day, the LaLaurie mansion is supposedly one of the most haunted places in the United States.
This wonderful legend sets up an ominous mood as we are introduced to the four jackasses that are sent to investigate the LaLaurie mansion. We get blonde history student Ryan, annoying psychic Madison, cocky film student Tim and bland team leader Paul. The four are sent into the house armed to the teeth with ghost hunting equipment and are told they must spend the night and record any paranormal activity. Right away, a chandelier crashes to the ground, doors open and close, and the participants get more and more freaked out. They investigate each room, finding cold spots and creepy feelings throughout the house. In the basement they find an old doctor's satchel filled with bloody medical instruments. In the attic, a chair flies across the room. As the spirits of the house get more and more restless, the foursome doubts they'll be able to get out alive...
This movie started out great! The story of Madame LaLaurie and her hideous experiments is truly creepy...and was about the only creepy thing in this movie. First and foremost, let me tell you that I did enjoy Blair Witch - it was inventive and scared the pants off of me when I saw it in the theater. That movie really built the tension and things actually happened before the great finale to scare the characters and audience. In The St. Francisville Experiment, nothing much happens except for annoying characters scaring themselves. Ryan, the blonde history student, screams and giggles (at the same time) throughout the entire movie, which would be fine if there was something SCARY to scream (or giggle) at...but there's really no reason for her to be causing such a ruckus. And Madison...uggghhh...I vote for her as the Most Annoying Character of All Time. I was ready to throw my shoe through the TV if she mentioned being protected by white light one more time.
This movie just drags itself along, until the last 15 or so minutes when the characters decide to all split up to cleanse each haunted room. This part got to be surprisingly tense, but it was ruined by the laughable ending.
If you like watching rip-offs and cheap imitations of the real thing than you may enjoy this movie...if you are sick of watching faux documentaries that don't deliver the scares, skip this failed Experiment.