A group of horny "toke, toke" happy teenagers hit a cabin in the woods to parrrr-tyyyyy. Bigfoot crashes their shindig and launches a soiree of his own! Itâ€™s called STOMP MORONS!
I’ve enjoyed every Eduardo Sanchez flick that I have tapped so far: THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT
and LOVELY MOLLY
. I also have a screener of his 2008 SEVENTH MOON somewhere, will have to find it and finally tackle it; long overdue. Dude is all good in my book and I esteem that he works outside the system and does his own thing. Kind of inspiring to be honest. So when I heard that Sanchez was going to take on Bigfoot in EXISTS
; I was pretty stoked about it. The Bigfoot subgenre is even tougher than the werewolf genre in terms of finding some stand out movies. Top of my head I can only think of two solid Bigfoot HORROR movies that I’ve seen: ABOMINABLE and THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK (even though the latter is as dull as TMZ watching it today). That’s it! I know there are all kinds of so bad they're good Bigfoot movies out there, and some obscure ones may be off my radar, but yup, slim pickings! So was EXISTS the Bigfoot movie I’ve been waiting for? Close...
Eduardo Sanchez has done the found-footage tap-dance before and the results were serious and unnerving with fleshed out and grounded characters. But with EXISTS he decided to have a good time and that ensued in me getting all kinds of solid kicks out of it. Once the familiar set-up was out of the way (teens go to a cabin to party... never heard that one before) and the “stock” characters got some time to stink up the screen with their grating yapping (more on them later) EXISTS really got to shine! It ramped it all up in a flash, as if somebody gave the film an adrenaline shot and it went beserker on my ass! I’m talking an oppressive sense of mounting dread, creepy ass scenes galore and more importantly all kinds of “Bigfoot attacks” set pieces that slapped a grin on my dumfounded face! Sanchez really got creative here. If it wasn’t the JAWS like approach that slyly used sound design to communicate our giant ape-man trying to get to its preys it was the all out chases doing the Doo, with one hell of an impressive bit showing Bigfoot run like the freaking two legged Gazelle he is! Remarkable!
The way Sanchez handled Bigfoot himself was pure genius as well. At first it was glimpses here and there, then we saw him from a distance (the famous Roger Patterson Bigfoot Footage was echoed here) and by the time we got to the last act, he was revealed in all of its hairy and no BS glory (via awesome practical FX work by Mike Elizalde of Spectral Motion fame). Huge kudos to man in a suit
Brian Green for his physical performance in terms of the big toed beastie. He brought the creature to life with oomph! He gave it a personality and again, all about them CRAZY running scenes! DOPE! Add to all that an able milking of the eye popping scenery and a pretty groovy use of a GoPro and you get a lean, mean, human whacking good time! So what is holding me back from giving EXISTS a higher grade? Well it made some odd choices. First it acted like a slasher flick, which is fine. It had the premise, the dumb moves to serve the plot (yeah I’ll go out alone to get reception on my phone when I know Bigfoot is out there, waiting to tear me up) and had the typical horror stock characters in the house. What I didn’t get is if you’re gonna use the slasher mold; why skimp out on the gore and TNA? That’s like ordering a Big Mac without the pickle and that mysterious Mayo; it makes no sense to me! This flick was dry in both senses of the word. Moreover, some scenes were so dark (mainly inside the cabin) that I couldn’t see shit, hence lessening some of the suspense and yeah we did have “who’s filming/why are you filming” moments, but they didn’t bother me much. At this point I'm used to them.
But my biggest gripe was the lead characters who were for the most part BEYOND underdeveloped, to the point that it made the token “victims” in the Friday the 13th series look like character studies. And worse of all; the stoner dude (well played by Chris Osborn who had the most layered role here) and his brother aside; they were annoying as hell. Now I’m not knocking the actors whom all did a fine job with what they were given, I’m knocking what they were given, which was not much beyond girls yelping, guy getting stoned and macho posturing from the token “tough” guy who wouldn't shut the f*ck up. For example how would I differentiate the girls in this film? Well we have the brunette and the other one that I know nothing about. So yeah, I didn't care for this lot pretty early on and I found it hard to root for them.
On that, thankfully EXISTS didn’t spend too much time with these irritating walking clichés and it cranked the madness into high gear failry early on hence the agony was short lived. For every scene with stock characters getting to me via their vacuous noise making (i.e. them talking), I was kept in the game with a break-neck pace and superior Bigfoot causing a ruckus
sequences! I’ll take that over a slap in the face any day!
There was blood here and there but the flick missed the boat in terms of delivering the gory goods. Look I donâ€™t need splatter in every movie, I dig a suspense driven film as much as the next chump; but this flick begged for some red grub tossed around! It was that kind of movie!
Thereâ€™s a quasi sex scene that showed the wrong pair of tits in my book â€“ the dudeâ€™s. Come on Sanchez! ;)
With EXISTS, Eduardo Sanchez decided to have fun with the found-footage subgenre he helped slap in the mainstream and when not having to endure see-through hand-puppet characters that begged for my back-hand, fun I had along with him! Although soft in the gore and TNA department (for shame), the flick was fast paced, suspenseful in places and stomped out some pretty awesome Bigfoot action/horror sequences that had me sitting up and slapping that knee! I was pretty much alone when I saw this one, but I can see it being a crowd type of experience with a couple of beers in ya! So yes, EXISTS is worth a watch! Itâ€™s probably one of the best Bigfoot movies out there! But as we all know, thatâ€™s not saying much. I'm still waiting for the MASTERPIECE Bigfoot movie...
The screenplay was written by Jamie Nash who also penned Sanchez's ALTERED and LOVELY MOLLY.