It’s no secret that I’m a fan of bigfoot flicks; you guys have patiently read through a couple of my meanderings of such. From way back in my childhood when the bigfoot phenomenon first started getting traction, I was hooked. I was a small kid when I first saw The Legend Of Boggy Creek, and that huge-mongous old cabinet television of ours often flickered shows like In Search Of… talking to bigfoot witnesses and seeking out the tracks and possible lairs of the hairy beast (narraration by Mr. Spock himself seemed to add a layer of credibility to this, you know!). Hell, even my favorite TV show, The Six Million Dollar Man, had one of my childhood heroes facing down an amped-up version of the Sasquatch! Growing up (notice I didn’t say “maturing”) into an adult, I still find myself fascinated by the concept of the great man-like creature roaming the forests just out of our sight, and I always watch the films that pop up from time to time that feature them; Sasquatch, Sasquatch Mountain, Snowbeast, and more recently films like Bigfoot: The Lost Coast Tapes, Hunting The Legend and Willow Creek. Some of these films have more merit than others, but none have really hit the mark I’ve been seeking. You see, I’ve been waiting on that bigfoot flick that really blows me away, something that takes me back to that childhood chill looking out my bedroom window back on those nights I’d just watched an hour-long CBS special on Sasquatch and was trying to go to sleep…
When I first heard that Eduardo Sanchez of The Blair Witch Project fame was bringing his own vision of a found footage bigfoot flick to the masses, I have to say I was excitedly hopeful; thus, it was with fingers crossed and eyes wide open I sat down to watch Exists.
A group of friends are travelling off to a cabin (just this side of nowhere, where of course there’s no cell reception) owned by the uncle of two of the group, brothers Matt and Brian. In the dark of night, they strike something in the road; finding blood on the fender and hearing strange keening in the woods, they believe they’ve struck a deer, and continue on.
By all appearances, this trip is a getaway to do some mountain-biking, sunbathing, and just in general summertime partying; well, to everyone except maybe Brian, who’s seeking to make a name for himself in internet video. He’s tricked out with a ton of cameras, placing them on the bicycles and equipment of his companions to capture every moment of their “extreme” lake activities. Nosing about the woods, Brian gets a glimpse of something moving through the trees; something tall, and bipedal, but apparently covered in fur. Recalling the stories his uncle had told him and Matt years ago, Brian seizes upon the idea of capturing the elusive Bigfoot on video. To this end, he sets up cameras all over the cabin and in the nearby woods…but Brian and his friends are going to get much more than they’ve bargained for; that “deer” that they hit on the way in was nothing of the sort, and if vengeance is a human emotion, then perhaps the reclusive Sasquatch is more human than previously suspected…
Exists hits on all the typical “found footage” tropes, but of course, Sanchez knows the style; he turns a lot of it around on us, and instead of the ‘squatch being reduced to strange cracklings in the darkness and fleeting glimpses in the background, we’re treated to balls-out in-your-face pissed-off bigfoot action from early on. I was pleased with this, making the flick more of a “monster movie” rather than a by-the-numbers “strange knocks on the cabin/rustling tent with stuff moved around in the morning” type of POV flick; on the contrary, it’s almost a slasher flick with a sasquatch. The creature is shown early and fairly often, both shrouded in darkness and also fearlessly in broad daylight, lending a more credible tone to the overall plot of the film (which in itself is kinda overworked, but hey; at least it’s a plot ), but never so much that it feels pushed or gets old; Sanchez found a good balance there.
Other than this, however, you’re not gonna see much you haven’t seen before; stereotypical characters that piss you off more than anything else, lots of footage of these same characters partying around and getting drunk, and (once the fertilizer comes into contact with the ventilator) the constant question of “why the hell are you filming this instead of helping/running/doing something other than sitting there dutifully filming your own destruction?!” The acting was about what I expected, without a lot of character development but with some high points across the board. I do have to comment on the makeup/special effects folks on this one: this flick has one of the best-looking sasquatches I’ve ever seen. The daring choice to showcase their creation in full-on close up and in broad daylight is a testament to how good it looks; some definite props earned there.
All of this contributes to what comes out to be an overall slightly-better-than average POV flick, if you’re looking at the film as just that…personally, I gotta admit that the bigfoot fan in me was just this side of giddy; despite it’s flaws, I enjoyed the flick…of course, that’s hugely influenced by being a longtime fan of the subject matter. Did it hit that amorphorous bullseye I’ve searched for in a sasquatch film? Not really; but it is a lot closer to it than any other effort I’ve seen, edging out 2012’s Bigfoot: The Lost Coast Tapes by showcasing the creature more without all the metaphysical hullaballoo.
So…I’m not gonna BS you good folks and tout this as a fantastic, groundbreaking, or even really all that different FF flick than you’re used to; if you aren’t a fan of the style, by all means, give it a pass. If you like films of the POV persuasion, you know what to expect and will most likely find it a decent watch that’s a cut above other found footage flicks being passed out in droves of late.
If, however, you’re tolerant of the technique and a bigfoot fan, I think you’ll definitely come away with some entertainment value.
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