By Geoff Hoppe
October 14, 2015 - 01:01
Studios: Haxan Films
Starring: Samuel Davis, Roger Edwards, Dora Madison, Chris Osborn, Denise Williamson, Brian Steele
Directed by: Eduardo Sanchez
Produced by: Gregg Hale, Reed Frerichs, Jane Fleming, Mike Elizalde, Robin Cowie
What is it about Bigfoot that so challenges horror directors? If you want to tackle sasquatch, it seems like you're either Willow Creek or Boggy Creek.
With all due respects to one-third of The Blair Witch Project’s creative team, Eduardo Sanchez’s Exists is basically a feature-length “Messin’ with Sasquatch” ad with no punchline. I say one-third because Gregg Hale, one of the original producers of Blair Witch, also worked on Exists. This movie is primarily found-footage and creature feature, but it dabbles in survival horror. It’s also the exact opposite of The Blair Witch Project, Sanchez and Hale’s earlier, superior film.
I’m a shameless fanboy. That is all.
Exists is Eduardo Sanchez’s 2014 found-footage scare-fest about a group of college students who take a weekend jaunt to a cabin in the woods (another film whose influence overshadows this movie). Only, these college students hit a Bigfoot— pretty obviously— on the way there. This is mistake #1. Within the first ten minutes, the antagonist’s motivation is clearly established— never a good idea for a horror film— and the protagonists have all the evidence they need of this fact. One of them even rewinds the video cam footage to see, clearly, the Bigfoot they bumper-hunt a few seconds after it happens. This fact spoils the movie. If you know the heroes are guilty, the hideous mystery of any monster movie— why are we being attacked? what’s the villain’s horrible motivation?—is answered. This is also a sign of how profoundly fortunate TBWP was. I don’t recall much about working my dad’s mid-90s video cam, but I don’t think it had resolution as high-pixel or easily accessible as whatever camera the hero uses here. Imagine Blair Witch with cameras that could easily rewind and review the day’s footage. Love or hate that film, it would have hurt the final product.
Exists deserves credit for a few genuinely tense moments. Given how early this movie shows its monster, it’s surprising there’s any tension at all. There’s an genuinely frightening sequence where Bigfoot tries to break into the cabin. Before this, however, is mistake #2, and Jack Links Beef Jerky moment #1, where Bigfoot throws one character's bike onto the cabin’s porch from 100 yards out. I laughed out loud, because throwing a bike will never be serious. The remaining characters repair to the cellar, where a few rounds of buckshot send BF scurrying.
What follows is an escape that would make the Mystery Machine crew scratch their heads, then holler suggestions like the audience at a crappy horror movie. The remaining heroes (thrown bike guy is out of the picture, and another character gets manhandled by Bigfoot) try to hike for safety— Bigfoot impaled their SUV with a car, which is a gag the Jack Links Beef Jerky people should totally capitalize on— to no avail. Also, it turns out bike-guy is alive, and Bigfoot had dragged him back to the Bigfoot hole. If nothing else came from this film, I got to type “bigfoot hole,” which is hilarious. It’s also at this point that I simply have to mention that in at least one culture’s ape-cryptid folkore— Sherpa stories surrounding the Yeti— abductions usually entail trysts. So, for all we know, Bigfoot and bike-guy were a guitar with foot pedals away from an enjoyable evening.
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