“Blue Hour: The Disapperance of Nick Brandreth” (2023) is a found footage supernatural drama that is both written and directed by Dan Bowhers. The film plays out as a faux documentary following renowned filmmaker and true crime documentarian Olivia Brandreth who has returned to her childhood home in order to gain closure on her father’s disappearance, which took place in 1997. The official police statement ruled her father’s disapperance a suicide, although no body was ever recovered in over twenty five years. Now, with the help of her production team, Olivia sets out to uncover the truth, which in turn may end up putting both her team at risk, as well as the fabric of reality.
Found Footage Cinematography
“Blue Hour” (2023) is recorded on a variety of cameras, including Digital, Super 8mm and 35mm film. Also included are the different mediums in which the footage was being taped from, such as various news broadcast sources, POV head (and body) mounted video cameras, as well as picturesque aerial drone footage. One sequence even delivers a quirky yet fun breakdown of how to use the Trap (or Game) camera. In addition, the film centers around many key testimonial interviews, all of which are thoughtfully placed in and around the narrative, to help guide the viewer more easily in this expression of non-linear sequencing. Also worth note here is how central story-driven the cinematography is. From Nick Brandreth’s character who is accredited being an award-winning photographer, to many of the sequences actually taking place inside a photo development lab (or darkroom), it becomes clear early on that composition and light manipulation is held at great value to these filmmakers. One quote used in the film states, “Photography is a hobby can lead to photography as a career, and often does. But professional work calls for a lot more than just snapping pictures here and there.”.
There is a strong justification here for all of the existence of footage that is presented throughout the narrative, primarily due to the main protagonist not only encompassing a close familial tie to (her father’s) case, but Olivia also possessing just the right amount of credibility in her career as a true crime documentarian to be capturing this type of content and digital media. The film opens up with Olivia Brandreth interviewing her mother, who even after 25 years is completely devastated and apprehensive that closure will ever be brought in. While Olivia feels more optimistic about the investigation, she ultimately makes it her prerogative to document everything in the interest of analysis and brevity.
Found Footage Purity
Director Dan Bowhers and his team truly go out of their way in showcasing unique world-building and authenticity via found footage. For instance the real life Nick Brandreth opened up to the team, offering an abundance of personal family photographs and archival home videotapes. This in turn provides an emotional catharsis of sorts, allowing viewers to peer a bit more deeply into a cold case that now surrounds a deeply devastated family.
In addition, Olivia’s character possesses much credibility to her name, being a renowned filmmaker. For instance, the movie creatively depicts a number of (faux) true crime documentaries that Olivia has made leading up to this point in time; some of which are listed being “One Piece at a Time: The True Story of Malik Said”, “Gone in the dark” and “Enough Left to Lose: The True Story of Women Who Stop at Nothing to Save Her Family”.
The total amount of archival video footage used in this movie is impressive, as oftentimes a sequence of a dozen or more images will play out on the screen, providing a thorough sense of backstory and authenticity to these characters. Furthermore, “Blue Hour” (2023) depicts over a couple dozen news broadcast segments, all of which encompass their own unique style, HUD display and realism to the narrative.
As a whole, the cast ensemble works effectively together in both performance and reading behavior. Olivia’s character (played by Morgan DeTogne) shines in her role as the main protagonist. Also starring in the film is Michael Kowalski (playing the role of Chris Donovan), Mike Headford (playing Luke D’Antonio), Nick Brandreth (playing himself) and Josh Olkowski (playing the role of Captain Frank Lynch). With these characters, each choice in dialogue exposition comes off naturally on the screen, as most of the time it feels like the characters are eloquently trying to paint us a picture, versus explaining off any of the important plot details.
Plot and Realism
“Blue Hour” (2023) was shot in Rochester, New York – primarily surrounding the Haddonfield Woods (and Lake) area, where Nick Brandreth disappeared back in 1997. His daughter Olivia has now become skeptical over her father’s cold case, as purported claims by local law enforcement have ultimately put her family name under national spotlight and scrutiny. In order to set the record straight, Olivia and her documentary film team dive headfirst into the case, revisiting former employers of Nick’s, as well as probing some of the anomalies surrounding testimonials of both a lead detective and private investigator.
Early details pose a number of conspiracies as to why Nick Brandreth decided to walk alone in the Haddonfield Woods that day he went missing. One of these wild theories hints at an extremely old religion that is practiced by the occult who worship and serve the obsidian pyramids. Other rumors point to alternative science theories and the possibility of doorways that could lead to other dimensions. For Blue Hour, though, while it may not be your creepy jump-scare driven storyline, it does excel at creating a unique heartwarming story of self-discovery.