Making the Grades
Remember the theory that a dozen monkeys locked in a room full of typewriters, if given enough time, could create an award-winning screenplay? Obviously the creators of The St. Francisville Experiment were out to prove this point using four people, three video cameras, and an old house.
Maybe they didn't leave them in there long enough...
Mimicking a documentary, the "producer" Paul Salamoff relates the large number of reported hauntings in St. Francisville, Louisiana. His experiment consists of having four people spend one night inside the supposed former residence of New Orleans' infamous Madam LaLaurie, to gather visual proof of the paranormal activities inside.
LaLaurie, an actual historical figure, was accused of brutally torturing and murdering many slaves in her posh French Quarter mansion. Barely escaping from a ferocious mob, no one knows for certain what became of LaLaurie, so her legend provides a perfect foundation for this haunted house flic.
Salamoff's team is a Swiss Army Knife of supernatural detectives--Madison is the Ouija Board toting psychic, Paul is the "ghost hunter," Ryan is the historical expert (but more aptly fills the role of screaming, midriff-bearing, large busted female), and Tim is the videographer. Obviously satanic elements abound while the bickering group explores the premises, and profanities fly as the scant 76-minute duration of time drags. After watching endless flashlight-up-the-nose close-ups intercut with fuzzy images and shaky zooms, I knew a child could have handled a camera better--except who would want to subject a youngster to this content.
Although it is apparent that facts were not the intent of this fabrication, some of the descriptions of LaLaurie's activities may be historically correct. These truths are disturbing, and seeing them sensationalized into a sideshow quality thriller seems demeaning to those individuals who suffered these atrocities.
So next time bring on the monkeys--they may scream, but they can't swear, they won't pretend to know how to act, and they might be able to hold those cameras steady. If nothing else it would account for the poor script.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about St. Francisville Experiment.
Madam LaLaurie is a dark chapter in New Orleans history. Do you think it’s appropriate to turn an event that lead to the painful deaths of many people into an entertainment product?
Why do you think a movie like this would be selected by Trimark Pictures for wide distribution? Could you make a movie with this level of production quality?
If you’re interested in knowing more about Madam LaLaurie, check this New Orleans’ information website at www.nola.com/lalaurie/ . However, be aware that the newspaper clippings and historical documents contain descriptions that may be unsettling and disturbing to some readers.