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‘NOCLIP’ review: Dirs. Gavin Charles & Alex Conn [Panic Fest 2024]

An accomplished marriage of new tricks and old sub-genre dogs.

Filmed on location at Crown Center, Kansas City, Missouri, NOCLIP sees two friends get lost as they explore the back areas of a shopping mall. NOCLIP is a low-budget found-footage film in which the pair of friends get trapped in never-ending liminal spaces and back rooms, and stars the film’s writing and directing team, Gavin Charles and Alex Conn, in the lead roles.

Charles and Conn keep NOCLIP nice and short. At barely an hour, one could wholeheartedly believe that the footage they are watching was captured on a single videotape. They also embrace the spirit of earlier found-footage movies and allow the film to look natural. NOCLIP utilises whatever lighting is available in the mall, meaning that much of the footage is bathed in a warm yellow hue. This will likely be an issue for those that have become more accustomed to the polished found-footage films of more recent times. However, for those who have been around as long as the sub-genre itself, it will be a welcome throwback to the original guerilla filmmaking tactics. 

That is not to say that Charles and Conn play things safe. The pair do stretch their visuals, the picture morphing and distorting as they become more entwined in the liminal spaces. The exposure settings change and so blobs of colour take over. Then their faces begin to warp and bloat, providing the audience with a drug-free tripping experience. These images become freaky, moreso when placed in front of the mundane empty spaces found back of house in a shopping centre. Charles and Conn’s decision to manipulate their visuals is a bold one; found-footage films typically rely on naturalism, but this move helps to fully absorb the audience into Gavin and Alex’s waking nightmare. 

Accompanying the visuals is a persistent thrumming drone. Whilst not present during early scenes, the sound slowly seeps in and gradually increases in volume and intensity. It’s presence begins to take on almost hypnotising properties, lulling the audience into an unexpected trance, serving to make the strange visuals even more trippy. 

NOCLIP is a found-footage film that keeps its central plot light. There are no big revelations about someone throwing a map in a river, or an infidelity exposed. Instead the story stays focussed on Gavin and Alex’s mission to explore the back areas of the Kansas City mall as they hope to capture something strange. Even as they do, ego never clouds their mission statement, and with little drama to hone in on, the viewer can simply let the intense droning and trippy imagery whisk them away to another plain of existence. 

A fun jaunt into the topical notion of liminal spaces and back rooms, NOCLIP is an accomplished marriage of new tricks and old sub-genre dogs. With elements that both new and older found-footage fans can enjoy, NOCLIP is sure to be happily devoured by those with a fondness for the sub-genre. 


Kat Hughes



Heady visuals and thrumming sound design combine to create a found-footage film that induces an almost trance-like state for its audience. NOCLIP draws the viewer in and takes them on a very trippy journey. 


NOCLIP was reviewed at Panic Fest 2024

Kat Hughes is a UK born film critic and interviewer who has a passion for horror films. An editor for THN, Kat is also a Rotten Tomatoes Approved Critic. She has bylines with Ghouls Magazine, Arrow Video, Film Stories, Certified Forgotten and FILMHOUNDS and has had essays published in home entertainment releases by Vinegar Syndrome and Second Sight. When not writing about horror, Kat hosts micro podcast Movies with Mummy along with her five-year-old daughter.


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