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Incident At Loch Ness (2004)
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Review Date: September 17, 2004
Director: Zak Penn
Writer: Zak Penn
Producers: Zak Penn, Werner Herzog
Actors:
Werner Herzog as himself
Zak Penn as himself
Kitana Baker as herself
Plot:
Part of this film's shtick is the mystery behind its making, which seems to indicate that it might either be a straight-forward documentary, a mockumentary or a documentary about another film gone awry (a la LOST IN LA MANCHA). The movie follows real-life director Werner Herzog and his pursuit of the Loch Ness monster in Scotland. Tagging along are Hollywood screenwriter Zak Penn and a gang of others, all of whom may or may not be in on the joke, if there is one, that is. Got all that? An incident at Loch Ness ensues.

*** MAJOR PLOT SPOILERS ENSUE...DON'T READ UNLESS YOU WANT THE PREMISE RUINED FOR YOU ***
Critique:
This is a strange film that was hard to really get a hold on, but at the end of the day, at the end of my 90 minutes in its company, I decided that it wasn't all that entertaining, interesting, funny or insightful to recommend or discuss with anyone. It's hard to talk about this movie without giving away any spoilers, so if you don't want anything about this film spoiled for you, stop reading now (part of its "charm", I suppose, is that you never really know what's real and what's not). For me, it only took a few minutes to recognize that the whole thing was basically just a hoax, so much like the BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, I couldn't get myself into any of it, since I knew that everyone was basically just "playing along", acting, if you will. They're pretending to be confused, pretending to be scared or surprised...they aren't really confused, scared or surprised, so none of it appealed to me on any of those levels. It didn't help that a few of the folks in the cast were extremely bad actors, particularly the man who also directed the film, Zak Penn, who came off like a guy in his first high school play (not sure if that was done purposely or not). Werner Herzog, on the other hand, came off like the coolest dude, a man who really seems to have shit together with a great accent to boot! Seriously, this guy should act in more films...very natural...very Sydney Pollack-esque.

The film's premise was also a very interesting one, but like I said earlier, they essentially give away the fact that it's not a real documentary at various points (its in-authenticity is actually quite palpable with cameramen "secretly" taping conversations between others, the producer doing things behind the director's back...on the same boat! Etc...), so I just sort of lost interest in it, as it went. And when you consider that it actually takes the film quite some time to get going in the first place (it only picks up around the one hour mark), that's saying a lot. For some reason, an early dinner party in the film features Ricky Jay, Jeff Goldblum and Crispin Glover, each of whom get about 10 seconds of screentime. C'mon! Sadly, even when the film does "pick up", all we're really left with are some "pretend" moments of people acting like they're seeing the monster, getting attacked by it, etc... Not my jive, I guess. The film did have a few light moments though, with the sound guy, particularly cracking me up with his over-insistence on everything having to do with sound, but Penn's character was just too over-the-top, bullheaded and an all-around dick, to take seriously. The whole thing just felt phony and lost me. If you're a fan of Herzog, you may want to check it out or if you appreciate filmmakers trying different things, this film is certainly unique, but at the end of the day, it really did nothing to engage or entertain me overall, so I can't really recommend it to anyone else. Decent idea, bad execution. Good little score though. PS: It apparently helps to know Herzog and many of his previous cinematic misadventures, so if you know about his past, that might make a slight difference.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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