Friday, November 7, 2014

EXISTS (2014) movie review

Exists (2014) d. Eduardo Sanchez (USA) 86 min.

“Since 1967, there have been over 3,000 Bigfoot encounters in the U.S. alone. Experts agree the creatures are only violent if provoked.”

So begins Exists, which marks Sanchez’s noteworthy return to the “found footage” format that he and co-director Daniel Myrick helped popularize in the summer of 1999 with their wildly successful indie venture The Blair Witch Project. But what a difference a decade and a half can make; in the age of the iPhone, the faux documentary style that was once a novelty has become a Hollywood-adopted subgenre, and the question of “Why would they keep filming?” has been answered a billion times over by countless YouTube video subjects far less interesting than mysterious dangling stick figures or hairy missing links.

However, unlike many of their contemporaries, Sanchez and longtime screenwriting partner Jamie Nash (Seventh Moon, Lovely Molly, V/H/S/2, and their criminally underrated alien flick Altered) are still interested in making the found-footage conceit accord with cinematic logic. Rather than phantom cinematographers capturing impossible angles and editing that defies explanation, Exists focuses on social media geek Brian (Chris Osborn) – and his dozens of GoPro cameras – out with his brother Matt (Samuel Davis), Matt's buddy Todd (Roger Edwards), and their girlfriends (Dora Madison Burge, Denise Williamson) for a cabin-in-the-woods getaway.

Obsessed with shooting everything in the hopes of capturing a magic moment, it is through Brian’s lens that viewers catch their first glimpse of a strange humanoid figure among the trees. But as the story progresses, the blurry images come into sharper focus, both literally and figuratively.

Fans of the mythical Sasquatch will be thrilled to know that Sanchez isn’t shy about putting his beast front and center, thanks to the special effects wizards at Spectral Motion and suit performer extraordinaire Brian Steele. Not since Harry and the Hendersons has the big hairy fellow enjoyed this much screen time, but unlike Steele’s time in the yak fur for the television incarnation of Harry, this Bigfoot is a terrifying beast more inclined to rend limbs than help put the groceries on the top shelf.

I can easily say that of the five Bigfoot films I've seen this year (Happy Camp, Willow Creek, The Legend of Bigfoot, and The Capture of Bigfoot), Exists offers the most Sasquatch bang for the buck. Plus, I dig that Sanchez fellow. Check it out.

Exists is now available from Lionsgate on VOD (and limited theatrical release).

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