The makers of Murder in the Heartland: The Search For Video X seem to remember the huge box-office receipts legendary horror-hoax The Blair Witch Project pulled in but it looks like they forgot about all the disappointment viewers felt. Blair Witch was just about the most universally hated movie to ever break $100 million bucks. I saw it before the hype broke and thoroughly enjoyed the creepy thrills but even I knew that that was a gag that couldn't be repeated. And I was right.
Murder in the Heartland purports to be a documentary on a pair of serial killers who supposedly left behind a tape of their crime spree. Assuming this piece to be a real documentary (which is what distributor Vanguard files it under) I picked up a review copy. I love a good true-crime investigative piece. Instead what I got was a shoddy, fake bit of trickery, with amateurish actors portraying sheriffs, victims and friends. The film (shot on consumer grade video equipment) is a boring exercise in self-indulgence and stubbornly sticking to a poor idea. The opening moments smartly mimic the real deal, with on-screen stats ("6 states," "17 armed robberies," "11 dead") intercut with atmospheric shots of rural squalor: Corroded cars and equally used-up people. I settled in thinking that this would be a gritty tale but the moment the first actress opened her mouth the gig was up. Not only are the performances unconvincing but the plot developments and storytelling style quickly ossify. The film becomes a mind-numbing series of talking heads interviews and convoluted twists.