Monday, May 4, 2015
Exists: The Big foot Project
Directed by: Eduardo Sanchez
Minor spoilers ahead- Nothing major but you may want to see the film first. You`ve been warned.
First let me start off by saying I`m a fan of Eduardo Sanchez. I really enjoyed Blair Witch and I thought Altered one a sorely underrated gem, considering its difficult to make an alien film not cheesy even on a high budget let alone a low one. But with a clever script that includes great character development and off beat humor mixed with some good gore it pulls it off brilliantly. When I heard he made a Big Foot movie I was really excited to see what he would bring to the monster of myth (depending on how you ask)
Plot: A cabin in the East Texas woods seems like the perfect get away for a group of kids, whose sole plan is to bike, paint ball and make videos. As the group is driving to there Chainsaw getaway they hit something but figure it was just a deer and continue on. The first night they hear strange crying and howling which they ignore. As the vacation progresses they quickly discover there is a hairy beast stalking them. Things go from worse to fucked when there car is wrecked, no phone signal and nobody knows they are there. Its man versus mythic beast in a savage battle.
Exists is a case of a decent movie that with more care could have been something really great.Lets talk writing. The five kids are standard horror stock (jock,stoner,air headed girl etc) which is so over used its a thing of self parody. With that being said the two most interesting characters are the two guys Todd (Roger Edwards) and Brain (Chris Osborn). Todd starts off as a bone head jock type but takes on the role of level headed leader when the things go ape shit. Brian the stoner starts out as this goofy hipster, getting high and making Big foot calls late at night, but he to also matures and at one point is about to light up a jay and decides not to. Alas as good as this is its never taken far enough and you never feel like the character arc`s are taken to completion. Like Brian he was half baked.
To make things worse this film isn't sure who the hero is. At first Todd takes the role while Brian (the more interesting of the two) has nothing to do for a good chunk of the film as he is filming. This is fine until we the audience has to shift from Todd as the hero over to Brian. The girls roles are terribly written with nothing to do but bitch,cry and scream. This isn't to suggest they are bad actress`s they just do not have much to do or character substance. At one point Elizabeth (Denise Williamson) is basically written out towards the middle of the film (guess she wasnt important anyways) Had the writer taken more care with characters it would have helped this movie a huge deal. I`m actually surprised because Jamie Nash who previously wrote "Altered" also wrote this. Also some of the dialog is just cringe worthy,Todd has some gem on liners. "Shut about a Sasquatch" direct quote.
The other problem with this film (and its a big one) is its a found footage style film. Now i`m curious why he chose this format when you know it will be compared to I dunnoo say BLAIR WITCH! This style is lazy and has more than tired itself out (ironically mostly starting with TBWP) and as I mentioned above totally cuts out an important character out of the film.I`m sure Eduardo wasn't going for a Blair Witch feel its very hard not to compare the two (again the footage style doesn't help)
You almost expect to see twig man and piles of rocks everywhere. The problem with this and other Found footage films is just simple logic. Would you REALLY be filming during all of this? Its not as if they were there making a documentary and the sole purpose was to capture everything.
So now for what I enjoyed about Exists. The pacing is brisk, wasting little time before eerie things are a foot or big foot in this case. Its clear that Eduardo has a grasp at creating tension and using the shooting locations to set a certain mood. I like the restraint he shows in only giving us slight glimpses and sounds, letting us the audience fill in the blanks with our minds, until it builds to the actual creature. Speaking of, in a Big Foot movie the one thing that has to be awesome is of course the monster and Exists does not disappoint in well done ape make up. A true test is when you see the beast in the sunlight, which as you know hides nothing. Yet it still holds up as a believable living creature. Its also worth mentioning the actor inside the costume Brian Steele for bringing a real fury to the part.
Also there are some great visuals like the bike being tossed into the cabin like it was a paper doll. Its a jolting moment that makes an impact. I was kind of sad that the tree sticking out of the top of the car was not used (as in the poster art) but it does end up in the film in another way. Still a striking image.
Exists is a fun movie with some gripping moments despite its short comings, yet I cant help feel frustrated at thinking what this movie could have been had the writer taken more care with the script and more importantly the characters. Also if they would have opted out of the over used found footage sub genre. Its not an unwatchable movie and in the right frame of mind its quiet enjoyable. But its not great either. It seems finding a really good Big Foot movie might be as hard as finding the actual monster of legend himself. This reviewer might have to track down "Willow Creek" next.