I knew nothing about this film before I watched it but this turned out to be a creepy sort of found footage film with a story that really drew me in with its mixture of real events and the fictionalised events of the film. I say sort of found footage because while it’s all filmed using handheld cameras there is no-one obviously recording it and the camera operator is never acknowledged. It didn’t really matter because I was too busy getting into the story by the time that became obvious.
The film is supposed to be a record of the researches of Anne Roland (Katia Winter) a young journalist who is investigating the disappearance of her close friend James Hirsch (Michael McMillian), a writer she met when they were students at college together. James recorded his experience of taking a drug developed by researchers from the DMT used in the MK Ultra scandal but after that he seems to have disappeared and not long after that the guy who was filming vanished too. The authorities investigated but they came up with nothing so Anne is determined to find answers
Anne searches James’s house and find a box with a video cassette and letter signed “from your friends in Colorado,” and this is the path she follows in her investigation. She tells her friend/ boss Olivia (Vivian Nesbitt) at work about everything and she puts Anne on to the signature being the title of a book by a burned out writer called Thomas Blackburn (Ted Levine) who seems to be based-on people like William Burroughs or Hunter S Thomson. The video turns out to be a recording of experiments on human volunteers with the modified DMT that James took.
On James’s computer is the video they made of James taking drug and there is a sound on the video that Anne can’t identify so she goes to see an expert who identifies it as a number station. These radio stations have been around since at least the Second World War and consist of a monotone voice reading out a series of numbers preceded by a musical jingle that sounds like ice cream van chimes. No-one admits to operating these stations so obviously they have become incorporated into conspiracy myths. The expert guy gives her a shortwave radio set and tells her where she needs to go to pick the station. he gets a bit cagier when Anne moves on to the subject of his work as a decoder for NSA
Anne tricks her way into Thomas Blackburn’s house and is introduced to Callie (Jenny Gabrielle), a friend of Thomas who shares his interest experimental pharmacology and is preparing her own recipe of the modified DMT. The freakishness starts not long after that with hints of Lovecraftian goings on and something seems to coming for them, signalled by the chimes of the numbers station. With Thomas Anne has to track down the source of the transmissions.
This was more interesting than the usual fake documentary style films and though it takes it time building up an atmosphere the climax itself is genuinely tense and creepy. The small cast is excellent and I thought the film made good use of the found footage in the film to lend credence to the story. This is also helped by use of the real scandal of the MK Ultra experiments and the ongoing mystery of the numbers stations. I think it’s an interesting film and I also like the soundtrack which is a bonus.