A most extraordinary experience awaits those with a taste for the strange and the bizarre in the small town of Black River Falls. Rocked by an inexplicable confluence of events in the late 1890s, this sleepy Wisconsin town generated some of the most unlikely news reports and stories ever told. Previously harmless residents - including children - commit a series of gruesome, violent murders. Sightings of ghosts, and reports of haunting and possession run rife. An epidemic sweeps through the town and takes with it some of the residents' newest born sons and daughters. Extreme cases of paranoia, insanity and delirium plague the townsfolk. And the population finds itself terrorised by a cocaine-snorting madwoman with a taste for smashing windows... Based on documented accounts, this haunting and surreal film beautifully evokes the otherworldly spirit and wayward madness of a time and place marked by an altogether unreal set of circumstances. Bizarre. But true.
- Wisconsin Death Trip review by Jawbreaker
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You rated this film: 2
This is a different take on the documentary genre with mixed results. While its fairly easy to investigate recent or current events with today's media, the 1890's lack such facilities. Making this attempt fairly unique.
James Marsh has incorporated the original photographs and audio readings of the local newspaper reports. These have been wound around recreations in atmospheric B&W, which are startling and effective. The only drawback is the colour modern day footage which feels out of place. Perhaps its inclusion should have been left until the very end, for a final chapter entitled 'Black River Falls Today'.
Ultimately you're left with the feeling that we've all missed out on the Wild Wild North, in favour of the more infamous West. From window smashing to insanity to lost opera singers. Wisconsin Death Trip is a bizarre ride.