Director Ted Nicolaou, a master of low-budget horror films whose most recent film came out in 2012 known as DevilDolls and started his journey with TerrorVision (1986), takes on the found footage genre with a brief 79-minute film, called The St. Francisville Experiment, concerning the historical figure Madame LaLaurie’s horrid life. The filming takes place in a house in St. Francisville, Louisiana, of Madame LaLaurie who kept slaves chained in the attic for creepy medical experiments and one night the home catches fire and she fled to this house where the paranormal team preps for their evening encounter. Now some will recall this famous person in the American Horror Story, Season 3 Episode 3, The Replacements, and that had a tad more credibility, as is common fact separates from history for storytelling reasoning. The film implies that LaLaurie took residency at this house to continue her torturous designs and growing insane experiments.
The team is formed by the producer (Paul Salamoff), and consists of a psychic and a film student Tim a survivor of a paranormal experience and a history student (Ryan Larson), all set to discover the truth and possibly rid the house of her spirit once and for all, and makes this trip is based on more action than atmosphere. As the journey starts, the shocks more planned with chandeliers crashing, chairs flung, roaches appearing and cats sprung onto unsuspecting people while the cameras are right on top of it to catch every jolt human possible, sadly no one is that good. The phantoms, want their 15 minutes of fame, and definitely not camera shy, the luckiest team ever, In addition, there remains much humor on the investigation especially directed the Blair Witch, and quite a bit of self-mocking extending to the actual task at hand, while attempting to remain true to the viewers. A series of interviews surround the footage, though appears disjointed, and covering new age philosophies, with the cleanness lighting for investigating which stands to reason, more gear and professional involved than shown on camera. The dark past and ghostly origins date back to 1832 but not of the investigated house rather the original home. The team leader Paul Cason (P.J. Palmer) sanctions an exorcism which tends for a problematic situation as horror fans know it must be blessed by a priest and conducted by a person trained in the craft and of the team members presented no one holds those sacred skills.
While the story of LaLaurie’s existence remains true, no evidence exists that she ever ventured to St. Francisville, she was never seen or heard from again, so a bigger mystery in the storyline of infamous crimes, and the haunted house considered the most famous in New Orleans. The home rebuilt and standing for the past 150 years echoes the distrustful past with many aspects of paranormal activity, and was for a period time owned by Nicholas Cage, which leads to scratching of the head as to why the filming did not occur at that location. Perhaps the intention all along was to create a horror movie, with the found footage scheme, then a documentary, if so, then that is exactly what the Ted provided to the audience’s viewing pleasure. In addition, the found footage market seems to withstand constant intimidations of The Blair Witch Project, all trying to achieve the same marketable investment, and still no one has truly cashed in of the wealth, since that movie. Some quality films have achieved notable recognition at various film festivals, such as Mortal Remains (2013) and the granddaddy of them all which presented much press for Cannibal Holocaust (1980).
Ted delivers the goods of a thrill, chills and a few spills for a standard haunted house ghost show, and while a lot have seen the screen, and now lays covered in dust or at the bottom of a DVD bin. Needless to say, if one seeks a film with a few highlighted scare moments there’s far worse film one could indulge themselves and waste precious minutes of viewing pleasure than, The St. Francisville Experiment and discover Madame LaLaurie.
This review was originally published on the now defunct Rogue Cinema website in January 2015 with a view count of 1,645.
- This ain’t no walk in the woods
IMDb Rating: 4.1/10
Baron’s Rating: 4.0/10