Aaron K.’s review published on Letterboxd :
I've heard about this for quite a few years but didn't know the history of it's release and somewhat legendary status in the horror community. Some reddit thread brought it up and my curiosity got the best of me so I found a stream and watched it.
Just getting this out of the way, some of the acting and writing is downright horrible and it's pretty obvious these film makers wanted to cash in on the extreme sadistic horror of the 2000's and it is pretty fucking exhausting at points. It's FAR from being a masterpiece of cinema.
THAT BEING SAID
To my god damned surprise, there are scenes in this movie (pretty much any of the actual "tapes") that I wish I could go back and unwatch. Like for how indulgent and low budget it can be it also fucked with my mind way way way way way too hard. The way they portray abuse, trauma, grief, sorrow, and just the voyeurism of profound human misery in those scenes is too fucking real. The ending interview with Cheryl made me cry. It was too fucking heavy. Her storyline is possibly the saddest thing I've ever seen in a horror movie. I don't even know if I'd call The Poughkeepsie Tapes horror. It is one on paper, but it's also so uniquely SAD.
I'm legitimately mad at myself for watching this, especially because I've always had trouble with empathizing too much when watching horror and this felt like it was created to make me feel like total shit instead of giving me any kind of catharsis. This isn't getting a rating from me. I guess I was curious to see just how cruel a fictional movie could be, and I've learned my lesson.
And none of this is meant to be some kind of ass backwards endorsement. I'd define this movie as so potentially triggering it's almost reckless. Some storytellers may want to use that kind of thing to their advantage. And it goes without saying that the ideas that this film is based on are no spooky supernatural creation. Correct me if I'm wrong, but sadism wasn't really a thing until we humans came along. I just don't know if I needed to be viciously reminded of that.
Now if you excuse me, I have 800 hours of baby animal videos to watch.