The Glenarma Tapes Image

The Glenarma Tapes

By Terry Sherwood | April 22, 2024

The Glenarma Tapes, directed by Tony Devlin and co-written by Devlin and Paul Kennedy, ripples with real-life troubles such as negative parenting, a brutal school system that tends to slot people into specific molds, and the ramifications of revenge porn. The picture combines high-res first-person recordings with a believable story helmed by a director comfortable in the found footage style. The footage in question is in a forest that’s been set on fire for reasons revealed later on.

The tapes tell the story of Gordy (Warren McCook), a tough guy who uses his fists to settle arguments while attending film school. His friend Jimmy (Ryan Early) is making a documentary of a day in Gordy’s life, so cameras follow him everywhere. Through that, it is shown he comes from a broken home where his mother is always drunk, though she should be taking care of his younger sister. Gordy’s father lives apart and takes no interest in minding the younger child leaving her with Gordy, who is having a hard time with police and maintains the general sense that the world is s**t.

Gordy and Jimmy decide to follow two of their teachers into the Glenarma woods as they believe the two will be having sex. Their female friends, Eleanor (Sophie Hill) and Clare (Emily Lamey), join Gordy and Jimmy as they suggest to the budding filmmakers to follow the teachers from their school. The foursome stumble upon a cult ritual in the forest and must now fight for their lives against a force they neither expected nor understood. As they are hunted further and further into the dark recesses of the pitch-black forest, the cult’s intentions come into focus.

The foursome stumble upon a cult ritual in the forest and must now fight for their lives…”

The Glenarma Tapes is well made, with rich, clear cinematography, even in the night scenes or moments when the characters must run. While the action begins slowly, once it starts, it rarely lets up as the friends use every tool and craft at their disposal to survive. There’s a real intensity and brutality to the proceedings. There’s very little gore, which suits the atmosphere of dread and flow surprisingly well. Solid sound design contributes to the sense of dread in the woods. The most terrifying audio is the sound of arrows whizzing by. The impact of various weaponry ripping into flesh, the crunch of unseen foliage on the ground, the thuds of injured bodies falling, and the screams of the victims all come through perfectly in the audio track.

The story explores a few intriguing notions, namely survivor’s guilt and whether or not, even rotten to the core, people deserve to be memorialized after being massacred. The cast does a lot of the heavy lifting here. They give fully realized performances that make the not-so-deeply written parts believable. This is especially true in the latter half, as the more serious issues take hold.

The Glenarma Tapes is well done and genuinely creepy at times. The superior acting from all involved makes one feel that the characters are more than just one-dimensional fodder for someone with a knife or axe. The brutal hunting of Gordy and his friends is tension-filled. The story doesn’t end in an expected place, which suits this well-rounded slice of terror just fine.

The Glenarma Tapes (2024)

Directed: Tony Devlin

Written: Tony Devlin, Paul Kennedy

Starring: Warren McCook, Sophie Hill, Ryan Early, Emily Lamey, etc.

Movie score: 7/10

The Glenarma Tapes Image

"…genuinely creepy..."

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