All of you out there that take the time to read these reviews o’ mine with any regularity know that, despite some opinions around here, I am not a hater of the “found footage” subgenre of horror. I have, however, made it clear that I’m not a fanatic; the lion’s share of these films just suck; many are cheapie shortcuts for someone lacking either the talent or imagination (or both) to make a movie. That said, I do find merit in a few of them that are well thought out and well made, taking the gimmick and using it for a real purpose rather than as simply an excuse. I further believe that such POV films as these rare ones have a place in our beloved genre, just as certainly as slashers, creature features, and haunted house pictures.
My resolve on such matters firmly in mind, I settled back to (hopefully) enjoy Hunting The Legend, an indie effort shot in my home state of Alabama. Not only did this fact pique my interest, but this particular entry into the mix also happens to fall into a sub-subgenre that’s another of my favorite things: Bigfoot movies. Yes, loath though I am to admit it, growing up in the late ’70s and ’80s when Sasquatch was first becoming a big deal (I still remember the The Six Million Dollar Man episodes featuring the creature), I’m still a sucker for movies featuring North America’s enigmatic man-beast of the forests. So mebbe I had just a bit higher expectations than normal when it started up…
When he was only fifteen, Chris was on a hunting trip with his dad. Father and son were at two different shooting positions, when the boy heard a chilling roar and the sound of his father’s rifle firing once. Rushing to where his father had been, he found only the rifle, a smear of blood, and a huge footprint. Local authorities found the same evidence, but the man’s disappearance was never solved, nor was any acknowledgement made of the footprint or what manner of creature might have left it. Five years later, the now grown Chris, having spent those years researching and collecting evidence of strange sightings around the area, is hungry for revenge; he enlists the aid of his girlfriend Hannah and his best friend Jeff to go with him to both prove the existence of what he believes killed his father and to kill it in return: Bigfoot. To establish his proof, he hires a local film crew consisting of a cameraman and sound engineer to record the entire expedition; to facilitate his revenge, he purchases some weapons from a shady seller out in the boondocks. All this done, the five first travel to the town nearest where the tragedy with his father occurred, interviewing locals and finding many, many stories of the legendary Sasquatch permeate the mentality of the community.
Satisfied that he has enough background for the film he’s making, Chris leads his group deep into the forest to find his proof and exact his vengeance. They meet with a colorful old man they’d heard about in town who lives “off the grid” in the forest; the hermit gives them a cryptic warning to abandon this quest and go home, but the young man’s resolve will not budge, and he and his friends press on deeper into the dark, marshy lands. Stresses develop between the friends, strange sounds echo through the trees, and fleeting images are captured on film…but still no concrete proof or target presents itself. Tensions mount and several members of the group wish to leave, and the question is raised if it will be Chris’s obsession, or the object of his obsession that will be the downfall of the expedition…
I can’t say I loved the film, but I can’t say I hated it, either. It borrowed from The Blair Witch Project, and had elements of the old classic mockumentary The Legend of Boggy Creek, but I don’t feel it tried to be either of these. As far as cinematography, it’s what you would expect from a documentary team and several folks with headset mounted cameras; you see enough on film to catch your eye, but not enough to say you’ve really seen anything (this serves the film well, I think, but could well be a disappointment to a lot of you Fellow Fans, I know). There’s a few moments of good suspense, and the radio voiceover at the beginning lends to a creepy atmosphere, but the film does suffer from the dragging that a lot of FF films do; it’s just the nature of the style. As far as the biggest failing of the genre itself, the trope for why it’s all being filmed, well, it has as good or better a reason as most, but arguments could still be made that it’s overdone. I thought the acting was very good for a film of this budgetary level, although it tended to fall apart in the third act (yeah, when the shit gets deep people do get over-the-top in their behavior, but to me it went a little too far out there in a couple of cases), but all in all I found it forgivable.
As far as my recommendation…well, what can I tell ya, folks? It’s a typical found footage flick that with bigfoot added an ingredient I personally found attractive. It’s not a bad movie in any case, but it doesn’t really bring anything new to the table of horror films, found footage or otherwise. For myself, I liked it enough to say I’d give it another watch…as far as bigfoot films go, I rather enjoyed it; as a whole, I found it to be a solid effort by young auteurs to capitalize on a local legend and venture into the world of filmmaking; as such, it’s not a bad effort (I’ve seen a hell of a lot worse from experienced filmmakers). I hope this experience works out well enough for them to continue with their dreams.
If you’re predisposed to hating POV movies, then by all means, give it a pass. If not, then you’ll find it an OK way to kill an hour-and-a-half; you might even get a little more from it if you’re a bigfoot fan.
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HUNTING THE LEGEND WILL BE AVAILABLE JULY 8th.
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