Thursday, June 4, 2009

Murder In The Heartland: The Search For Video X (2003)

Murder in the Heartland:
The Search for Video X

Written by James D. Mortellaro and Steve Longmuir
Directed by James D. Mortellaro

This faux-documentary about the fictitious spree killers Dwayne Foote and Darla Jean Stanton is the follow up to the much-recommended Video X. Using news clips, interviews, surveillance footage, crime scene photos and 911 emergency calls, all the bases are covered here: Dwayne and Darla Jean's childhood, their lives back home, psychiatric analysis and opinions from family members.

When the film crew catches wind of the yet-to-be-seen home video that the couple shot while embarking on their crime spree, this becomes their new point of focus, but nobody is willing to comment. Sensing a scoop, the crew stoops to trickery and lies to uncover what secrets the tape might hold. We get not only the surprising truth as to how the video found its way into public hands but also a good degree of social commentary.

It's hard to classify if this film is a sequel, a prequel or another side of the story at the same time the events of Video X are unfolding. It's all three. The documentary is being filmed after the crime spree has ended but before Video X was seen by the public, and parts of the film are comprised of reports collected while the killers were still at large. Regardless, it's a suitable companion piece that will be enjoyed by fans of the original but doesn't have nearly enough strength to stand on its own.

Perhaps it would have been a more effective film if it had been done in a more professional manner. Where as the amateur style was fitting for Video X as it was filmed by regular Joes, the shaky camera work and extreme close ups don't work well in documentary form and were more distracting than anything. Still, the interviews were believable and seemingly off-the-cuff. Some people will complain that the statements one person made conflict with the statements of another, but that is a fact of realism made apparent when watching any genuine unbiased documentary.

Perception distorts fact, plain and simple.

The DVD features an optional commentary track by the filmmakers in character (i.e. as if the events depicted had actually occurred), which may be of some interest.

Worth a rental, at best.

BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR: Hunchback Billy; Squirrel hunting; Conspiracy grandma; Buckle up; Cricket on the window; Super Mario Brothers theme song; A forty for my homegirl;

88 Minutes
United States

Murder in the Heartland: The Search for Video X is currently ranked #64,117 in DVDs at Read more about it at the IMDB, rent it at Netflix, or buy it today!

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