Snuff: A Documentary About Killing On Camera

Being that I have a twist obsession with the dark and macabre, I was thrilled when Bucky handed this film off to me for review. Unfortunately by the time I am writing this review, the adulation is gone killed supposedly much like the people in this documentary. The very term of Snuff has many effects on people in different ways. Snuff is the supposedly real murder (sometimes rape and or torture) of a person or people on film purely for profit. The Myth is they intend to sell to a secret and presumably rich clientele worldwide. For anyone who would like to learn more of the mythos, watch the film 8MM.

My problem with Snuff is that it wasn't particularly informative or credible while as a horror fan it was ultimately very entertaining. It touches on a few different topics that personally I don’t view as Snuff including war (as in people getting killed for real, internet be headings, sniper attacks filmed etc.), even horror films in the essences of Cannibal Holocaust since the director was at one point arrested over fears he'd murdered his actors. Other films include the film Snuff which people went as far as picketing the film. Finally one of the last topics covered was serial killers, such as Charles Ng and Leonard Lake; who murdered whole families, tortured and raped the women, and filmed some of it (but not the actual killings) for their gratification.

Like I said above by definition none of these things actually qualify as a bona fide snuff film. The people interviewed for this this film in my opinion have no bases to speak on the topic as they are directors and "film experts" (I think the title was self-given, since I've never heard of any of them) seem to have an extremely broad generalized view on what precisely a snuff film is, and none of them are really correct in their views.

Their examples of stuff include Lake and Ng didn't murder on camera. An internet beheading is done, as are acts of war. One of the supposed film experts interviewed, even tries to make out that Bowling For Columbine is a snuff film, due to its decision to include CCTV footage of the Columbine shootings, which is a severe stretch to say the very least. None of which were done for profit.

As for so called "real" cases, we're treated to a rather dodgy story regarding a Russian Snuff pedophile ring, who supposedly killed kids on camera. Nothing more is made of this, being that I wanted to check the source of this "real case" I did some googling and it seems pretty unlikely to me. Our next "real incident" is told by a producer in the adult film industry. He tells of the time he really did see an honest to god snuff film in back in the '70s, he received the film from some shadowy Filipino distributors. Of course, nobody else was there with him when he saw it, the Filipinos disappeared, and we only have his word that such an incident ever took place. Hearsay, has become the backbone of the entire myth of the Snuff film.

So overall, what did I take away from this documentary about killing on camera? Not much it's watchable, but doesn't give any particular useful or new insights into the Snuff mythology, particularly to those interested or half-way knowledgeable on the topic. I would say for someone who has very little to no prior knowledge on the topic, this is a good starting point. I won’t bash the film for trying but only for, not giving much more than what was already known to me and using a lot of chopped or footage from Hollywood films. Also they could have put forth more effort in finding a few more creditable sources. I feel like the director paraded a few friends on camera wrote up some lines and labeled them "Film Experts".


reviewed by Shawn

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