Starring Brian Steele, Dora Madison Burge, Samuel Davis, Roger Edwards
Directed by Eduardo Sanchez
Distributed by Lionsgate
Like an all-you-can-eat buffet, the never ending rollout of found-footage horror continues to be put on display for the paying customer – and while some are like a four-star meal in both taste and appearance, some aren’t worth being shoved in a plastic bag and provided with a toy for added entertainment. However, there is a way to enjoy your meal and take solace in where it came from, and that way is to know your chef, or in this case, the director himself.
Eduardo Sanchez, the lead man who way back in 1999 (jeez, has it been that long)? literally scared millions out of their skivvies with the iconic woodsy-creepfest The Blair Witch Project, once again returns to his kitchen to deliver a moderately appetizing entrée of Sasquatch in Exists, a film that can both amuse and frighten at points but isn’t without its faults. While the look and feel of Sanchez’s style can definitely appeal to more than a few viewers, are we as a majority overwrought with the first-person POV? Let’s jump into the woods, and be sure to steer clear of any droppings.
The movie’s premise sets up fairly easily: A group of friends on their way to a relaxing weekend in the woods at a family member’s cabin are stalked by the infamous Bigfoot – easy enough? Well then, let’s progress – the five friends, who are set up in the traditional fashion (the good couple, the raunchy couple, and the tagalong stoner idiot), are all represented with the utmost candor. While it would be like beating a dead horse to get into each and every instance of the story here, I’m going to go with a bit of a different route, so let’s see what works and what doesn’t.
What we do know is that we have a group of friends that at times are rigged to the hilt with varying angles of GoPro cameras, all in the hopes of attaining some superior YouTube footage while mountain biking through the wooded masses. What has become tedious is the knowledge that no matter what peril one particular individual may be in at the time, those cameras will always be powered on, no matter what (these cameras also have enough battery power to push a small manned spacecraft back through re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere, apparently). The upside is that we don’t miss a whole hell of a lot when it comes to the hairy one’s multiple attacks.
The members of our group have apparently lost the ability to communicate with each other, as the words “shut up,” “bro,” and “fuck” are thrown around with titanic regularity (maybe perilous situations can cause the loss of intelligent dialogue?); however, these annoying actions to some are the perfect fodder for the sadistic soul when one of our beloved party gets manhandled by the 7-foot tall monster… and speaking of the monster, while there are a few decent distant shots of the beast, once we get a face-to-cam look at the one who has been wreaking havoc amongst our party pals, the appearance is far too costumed of a look, and the fright factor is immediately sucked out of the beast’s presentation. While we’re at it, the creature has somehow learned the art of psychological intimidation as well: At one point, when the lead character takes off on his bike to get help (the SUV they arrive in was trashed by the Sasquatch), he is pursued through the woods and knocked off his ride. The next shot we see is from a fixed GoPro on the porch of the cabin, which our lead’s bike is tossed onto in a fit of rage by the beast…so you’re telling me that the monster carried the bike ALL the way back through the forest to pitch it on the porch in a show of mind-manipulating aggression?? Well played, Mr. Sanchez.
The monster knows just when to jump, when to show its face, and is pretty handy when it comes to electrical cutoff (NO generator can withstand its power). Aside from the asinine behavior of the cast and a mapped-out storyline, I’m willing to sustain execution on this one because the premise (while not new) does hold some sort of interest outside of a witch or hermit/vampire or extraterrestrial holding residence in the forest, and for the most part the movie is entertaining in some fashion. It’s not terrible, and it’s not horror gold – it’s just there… kind of like Bigfoot. It could be there, and then again it couldn’t be there – it all depends on your eyes to decide whether or not it truly Exists.