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Home | Film Review: The Cohasset Snuff Film (2012)

Film Review: The Cohasset Snuff Film (2012)


In 2009, the small town of Cohasset, Massachusetts was rocked with tragedy. A 17-year-old high school senior named Collin Mason murdered three classmates. All the murders were videotaped and uploaded to the Internet via bit torrent sites and for three days, the world viewed the murders of these three innocent teens. Through legal action, the parents of the victims were able to remove all footage from the Internet and the town tried to save face by pretending it never happened. Bootleg copies of this footage are still passed around and downloaded through illegal means. The impact of this video is still being felt in Cohasset today. The video has become infamous, and is now referred to as The Cohasset Snuff Film.


The cover poster art is really the only thing extreme about this film…………..

When I received a film bearing the title “The Cohasset Snuff Film”, I was expecting a gruesomely extreme product filled with torture, gore, and excess. Despite the “snuff” portion of the title, this is NOT that kind of product. It “is” a new entry into the cam footage (found footage) circus of “everything filmed for viewer consumption” market.

The film details the last tapes off serial killer Collin Mason, resident and student of Cohasset, Mass.

Now as far as I can tell the film makers and the story proclaim this person (and tapes) to be real history. Though in investigation, the name, the incidents and the location history came up completely blank. We’ve seen this kind of dupe with projects like the “Blair Witch Project” and others. So it’s best to let you know up front… it’s all fiction. Certainly nothing wrong with that as long as we don’t try and confuse the 2. The filmmakers have posted Youtube pieces and what-not to trailer the film and plant some evidence of Collin Mason’s exploits. So for the record, “The Cohasset Snuff Film” is a Mockumentary.

The IMDB page seems to be missing any actor credits, while the film itself credit rolls the talents. Though I have to say that I can’t recall the name of the actor who plays Collin Mason. In any case, several “extras” were brought in playing there own names to add to the authenticity. Essentially what this film is, is a collection of the Youtube videos that follow Collin Mason from being a snot-nosed teen into his self recorded murder exploits.

Mason tells us early on that he is planning on committing a series of murders using his camera as his intended future audience. His targets at first seem to be “those who snubbed him” or maybe even caused him to have a “bad day”. This becomes confused as he later includes his (very hot and very naked) girlfriend of which you might be first wondering “why” she even gave him the time of day, let alone allowing him to have sex with her (mark this down as highlight of the film).

Mason’s first victim comes in the way of a pot-smoking teen who berates him for video taping her. His exploits are detailed into the camera and then executed on tape. This series of on-tape murders is what roots this film in its supposed controversial content. However as most of our readers already will attest to, we’ve seen it all (of which the film isn’t creating anything inventive). The kills are simple, nothing extreme, nothing that really needs FX added. Though the point of this exercise is to watch as Collin becomes more self-obsessed and committed to his idea.

Much of this presented in a snide, self appreciating performance but never to the reality of what a true psychopath would transform into. My argument would be that, as Collin becomes deeper into his character, he wouldn’t be self-saluting, but rather farther removed. This trait never becomes apparent but rather takes the role of a young teen who is very aware, very proud of himself, and quite annoying on camera as the film progresses.

You have to give kudos to young (and new) filmmakers such as Edward Payson, however I would caution all of them (including Payson) that the way into horror and new introductions is really not in producing more “found footage” material. I’ll digress to say that out of every 10, 1 really surprises me, but overall most lack alot of the TRUE cinematics (the ones that pioneers such as Kubrick and Scorsese practice are nowhere to be found).

While I’ll applaud the effort, I just don’t think the key talent was the right choice for this experiment. There was a film a few years back called “The Last Horror Movie (2003)” which was an excellent film. “The Last Horror Movie” is closer to what this film was shooting for which was to scare the crap out its audience with a self narration of murder exploits. I’m gonna have to point you to “that” movie first for reference, and then onto Edward Payson’s version.

The Cohasset Snuff Film (2012)


  1. CinematicCritic

    I cannot DISAGREE more with that review. I too was forwarded a screener for this film and was thoroughly impressed by not just Mr. Payson’s direction, but the “key talent” was absolutely phenomenal. The version I received however did not include a cast credit in the end, making it even more believable that this might’ve happened. I was able to dig up some articles and editorials at the Scituate (borders Cohasset, MA) public library this summer as I was visiting an aunt who lives there. Albeit these two pieces never mentioned the name of the attacker or victims, they drew MANY parallels in conjunction with the film. So the jury is not out however on that particular part, but I can honestly say the jury will soon be out that this is a cinematic masterpiece. The idea is fresh and original to the found-footage genre. The mix of the actual videos with interviews of psychotherapists, detectives, community members adds a whole new dimension to the “Paranormal Activity” ingenue.
    It is not as grisly and gory as I was expecting based on the film’s poster, however, the action is still heart-pounding and had me, a veteran horror film fanatic, nervously looking away at certain moments. The “acting” was superb on all fronts making it harder for me to believe this didn’t really happen and affect these people this way. Especially, Collin Mason. Now if this movie is just a mockumentary, then the actor playing him deserves that much more credit. Yes, the c**kiness got to be distracting, but this kid was a sociopathic narcissist after all. It is rarely seen in this case, but yes it has happened. For someone with a BA in psychology, I can tell you it is clinically possible. Casey Hart was a prime example of this. Though he didn’t succeed in murdering anyone, the journals he left behind were proof that obsession and narcissism are part of the condition.
    But enough of the academia, all I have to say is that I tremendously respect Edward Payson and I have been a fan since Morbid A Love Story and that was renewed with Unsigned. This film tops the two of those one hundred times over, and I HIGHLY recommend this film for anyone even remotely interested in horror and/or documentaries. We should let you decide for yourselves.

    • Just saw this at Hole in The Head in SF. The generous reviewer here was thoughtful enough to not just come out and call this movie pure garbage, which it certainly is. Short version? Don’t waste your time.


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