The Miranda Murders: Lost Tapes of Leonard Lake is ambitious. It’s a found footage film that manages not to be entirely kitschy while profiling the “lost” moments of notorious serial murderers (rapists, sadists, kidnappers) Leonard Lake and Charles Ng.
For the unaware: Lake and Ng terrorized Northern California from 1983ish to 1985 with a sick game of torture, imprisonment, rape and killing. They would often abduct women, kill their partners and children, and subject their captives to weeks of terrifying and degrading forms of physical and mental abuse. It’s one of those real life horror stories that sprouted out of the tail end of America’s sordid affair with cult leaders, killings and the like in the 70’s.
“…the found footage style here is handled not as a gimmick but a serious formal choice that provides frightening element of authenticity.”
For some reason, director Matthew Rosvally and co decided to make it a movie. Regardless of why they did, this much is true: The Miranda Murders is an incredibly hard watch. One reason for this is that the found footage is handled not as a gimmick but a serious formal choice that provides frightening element of authenticity. The archival effect and faithfulness of production bring about the kind of goosebumps I’m sure we all got when unmarked VHS tapes sat around and The Grudge was still a new movie. Pair this with the alleged verity of the performances and you’ve got a movie that feels like a snuff film. This is intentional. In an interview with HorrorNews.net, Rosvally notes that nearly all the scenes are reconstructed pantomimes of recovered footage from Lake and Ng’s murder estate: