The Andy Baker Tape (2021) Review
Another small cast and smaller budget pandemic production, Bret Lada’s (Scrambled) The Andy Baker Tape is also, unsurprisingly, a found footage film. With a large number of awards from its time on the festival circuit, I was hopeful that this would be one of the better films of its kind. And, for the most part, it is.
Jeff Blake (Bret Lada) is a YouTube food blogger who has scored a shot at getting his own show on The Food Network. He’s also discovered via one of those home DNA tests that he has a half-brother he never knew about, Andy Baker (Dustin Fontaine, Giorgio Bush and the B-people, Homeward) who lives in East Nowhere, New Jersey.
Needless to say, the polished, urbane, influencer and his rural relation couldn’t be more different. But their first meeting, while not the warmest of family reunions, isn’t a disaster either. So the two end up travelling together until Jeff realizes that Andy isn’t all there mentally and bails out on him after a fight. That would seem to be the end of it. But the segments with Andy were so popular that the network makes his being part of the show a condition for them to green-light it.
Like most found footage films, we know from the start that this will not end well. If the film’s own publicity doesn’t make it clear enough, we’re also told at the film’s start that The Andy Baker Tape has been assembled from eighteen hours worth of footage found in 2020. This means the film’s challenge is to keep the viewer hooked even if they can guess the ending.
And for first-time feature filmmakers Lada and Fontaine, who co-wrote the script with Lada, do a surprisingly good job, especially for this kind of film. The Andy Baker Tape is basically a two-person film in front of the camera as well as behind it. And with no supernatural or extraterrestrial elements, everything rests on the dialogue and performances of the two leads.
The Andy Baker Tape wisely uses a format that makes most of the constant filming logical as well as a plot that is perfect for rising tensions and suspicions as the friendliness of their initial meeting gives way to the realities of Jeff’s narcissistic behaviour and anger management issues as well as his sibling’s ulterior motives. They also wisely chose to keep the running time down to a quick seventy minutes so that it can tell its story before its limited scope becomes repetitious.
Admittedly, I did find it a little unbelievable that the network execs would find Andy so interesting that his absence would be a dealbreaker for Jeff’s show. But at least it gives him a logical reason to deal with his brother again as the film comes to its climax. And that climax is an effective one, even if some of the dialogue is, I think intentionally, hard to make out.
The Andy Baker Tape is a nicely done film and fans of both found footage and slow burn horror will find it worth their time to check out. It’s certainly better than other recent found footage efforts such as A Town Full of Ghosts and Infrared even without their supernatural shenanigans. I’ll be watching to see what Lada and Fontaine do next because their debut shows a lot of potential.
The Andy Baker Tape premieres on the Terror Films Channel on August 5 before a wide digital on August 12 and the Kings of Horror on August 19. You can check either their Facebook page or the film’s page for more details. You can also check FilmTagger for something similar if you have an appetite for more like it.