Justin Cole’s The Upper Footage is a small masterpiece. It is one of the best films of the year – and it just so happens to be a “found footage” film. Yes, it’s one of those. Before all of the haters chime in, know that The Upper Footage is one of the most effective films of its kind that I have seen in quite some time, possibly ever.
The Upper Footage follows a group of pretentious, spoiled New York socialites as they set out to have a night on the town, complete with drugs and possible sexual conquests. When they meet a naïve young woman named Jackie at a bar, they immediately whisk her away to a swanky apartment and proceed to give her copious amounts of cocaine and alcohol. When Jackie has a graphic overdose and dies, the snobby brats flip out and decide to ditch the body.
Don’t let that simple little synopsis fool you. There is much more here than meets the eye. Justin Cole and Co. went out of their way to convince the public that this was indeed a case of actual “found footage”. Entertainment Tonight bought into the hype, and somehow or another, Quentin Tarantino’s name got mixed up in all of this. A considerable amount of controversy began to follow this film, and ultimately, Justin Cole had to release the film independently. Of course, we all know that this is fiction – but as we are drawn deeper and deeper into this film, it doesn’t feel that way. It becomes dangerously real.
The performances here are nothing short of superb. This is quite possibly one of the best ensembles that I have seen since Jacob Aaron Estes’ Mean Creek. There isn’t one false note to be found here, which makes the experience all the more authentic and unsettling. There is something about the material here that is timely and incredibly urgent. The things that we are witnessing on the screen aren’t that far removed from some of the stories that dominate the nightly news – not to mention similar incidents that may or may not be covered up completely as a result of money and social status. Director Justin Cole understands this. He does not set out to merely shock, but to enlighten – to snap us out of our self-satisfied comfort zones.
The Upper Footage is powerful and infuriating. It is one of the most important films of the year. Think of it as a cross between The Blair Witch Project and the work of Bret Easton Ellis, and you’ll have a good idea of what you are getting into. Justin Cole is one to watch.
The Upper Footage is available to view exclusively on Vimeo VOD.