Review: Exists

7 10

PLOT: Five friends travel to an isolated area of the woods rumored to be lorded over by Bigfoot. Using dozens of cameras to document their experience, the group finds out the the legendary creature is all too real.

REVIEW: For a horror geek, there's something undeniably cool about seeing Eduardo Sanchez - co-director of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT - wander back into the forest for a different kind of lost-in-the-woods thriller, presumably to show all of these found-footage pretenders how it's done. With EXISTS, Sanchez comes close to doing just that; with some timely jolts and a handful of creative camera tricks, the director has made an engaging and sometimes scary you-are-there experience. The fact that the movie feels incredibly familiar for the most part is more a product of the oversaturation of this subgenre than any harsh criticism of Sanchez.

Attempting to do for Bigfoot what BLAIR WITCH did for unseeable specters in the night, although without that film's careful world-building, EXISTS focuses simply on five friends who go camping in the middle-of-nowhere with an eye toward capturing on video the mythological beast - which they most certainly do (spoiler alert). Truth be told, the movie wastes no time with exposition or character development; you'll only know our protagonists' names if you're really paying attention, and their interactions do little to reveal who they are or how they know each other. The only character of distinction is Brian (Chris Osborn), the resident goofball and videographer. (These movies all have that one guy who refuses to put down the camera, no matter how harrowing the circumstance, and Brian is it.) As he's a bit of a third wheel, Brian's determination to find the Sasquatch leads him to plant GoPro cameras everywhere in their dilapidated cabin, on their bikes and bicycle helmets - he even sleeps outside with one.

EXISTS takes its time getting going (not unlike BLAIR WITCH), and the aforementioned slightness where its characters are concerned initially leads us to wonder why we should care one way or the other about what happens to these people. When Bigfoot eventually does arrive, however, Sanchez kicks the movie into gear and delivers a second half that is rife with bump-in-the-night scares and protracted suspense sequences. As the creature carefully stalks and attacks its prey, the stakes are considerably raised and we finally begin to empathize with our previously anonymous group of friends. Their quiet nights are now unbearably restless as their hairy foe barges around the outside of the house, often just out of sight.

EXISTS would best be seen in a theater, where the sound design can work on you. Much of the potency of Sasquatch's appearances in the first half depend on his frightening growls and the litany of unnerving noises that accompany his every visit. Visually, it's no better or worse than your average found footage presentation (some of the nighttime footage is actually way too dark), but Sanchez being a wily vet of this game knows how to move the camera in sometimes surprising ways, so he manages to keep us engaged in the action without always resorting to puke-worthy shaky cam. (Although don't get me wrong, there's plenty of that as well; it's inevitable.)

Bigfoot is presented as a calculating and fearsomely unpredictable animal, prone to both wild rages and stealthy predatory cunning. EXISTS hides him at first, as it must, but it becomes increasingly crucial to the film's effectiveness that we get a good look at him, and Sanchez doesn't hold back. It's a very satisfying representation of the big guy, scary and - dare I say it - realistic. Mike Elizade's make-up work on the Squatch is about as good as you could ask for. He's an intimidating villain, to be sure, and he helps make EXISTS an entertaining spin on an old legend.

Source: JoBlo.com



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