The Rohl Farms Haunting is a found footage documentary that takes its influence from films such as Blair Witch Project rather than the recent Paranormal Activity franchise and it's imitators. The biggest, and potentially most exciting, difference here though is that this is a youtube upload and is about as low budget and independent as a film can be.
The premise, as with the majority of found footage films, is a simple one. At the beginning there is some text explaining that two 21 year old friends, Codero Roman and Luke Rohl, went missing while making a documentary in Wisconsin in 2012. A short time later a DVD arrived at the local police station with “PLAY ME” written on it. The film we see is that unedited DVD.
The original documentary appears to be a project by these two friends about Luke's farm and life. There is some backstory based on previous productions which is hinted at but as I haven't seen them I cannot add any more detail other than to say that there appears to be a slight tension between them at the beginning. That aside they begin to film the documentary with Luke talking about the farm he runs since the death of his parents and the difficulties involved. As they film strange things begin to happen; knocking at the door, a fridge door left open and so on and they suspect that they are part of some elaborate prank. As the events become more and more intense and remain unexplained they look to other more supernatural reasons for the events and the relationship between the friends deteriorates dramatically. Ultimately they must set these differences aside and face their fears.
To qualify my opinion let me state that I still enjoy the found footage genre, and I appreciate I may be in a minority here. I still believe there will be another Blair Witch or Last Broadcast somewhere among the Paranormal Activity led pack but I'm not sure The Rohl Farm Haunting is it.
There are good things here. The farm setting is unarguably creepy and the simple beginnings of the knocking and lights being turned off creates an eerie, slightly haunted atmosphere. The performances are good and you do buy into the difficult life that Luke is living and empathise with his frustrations and intolerance towards the apparent games that are being played on him. One of the key components of this type of film is that the audience must believe the people they see on screen are real and not actors and this works well here.
The problem is I just didn't find the film scary enough. The first two thirds are full of tension and anxiety and are genuinely creepy. The scenes in the milking shed are reminiscent of Blair Witch and the blackness of filming outside with poorly powered lightning generates a claustrophobia that tunnels and abandoned hospitals struggle to emulate. All this good work though disappeared somewhat though in the final act when the reveal came and, without spoiling anything, I felt a little underwhelmed and disappointed. Any ending is always difficult as no matter how good the film was, what you take away with you is the conclusion and unfortunately I didn't feel that in this case the finale lived up to what had gone before.
All in all this is not a bad addition to the genre and is certainly better than many of the similar franchise films dominating the cinema. As this is on youtube I would recommend having a look and the filmmakers are definitely worth keeping an eye on.