“New found footage Bigfoot movie” kind of says it all doesn’t it?
The movie is directed by Eduardo Sánchez, and if that name seems familiar it should. This is the guy who did The Blair Witch Project – the film which really made found footage a thing. He understands tension and atmosphere. I’m an apologist for Blair Witch, a film that kept me squirming throughout the running time until hitting me with a disturbing image that stayed with me for months at the end.
It seems however, that he may be a one trick pony. Exists is cut very much from the same cloth as Blair Witch, with one harrowing rescue scene in particular that feels like it was cut straight out of that film and dropped into this movie with only the names changed to protect the innocent….
There are some significant differences here from Sanchez’s previous attempts though. The conceit of the go pro cameras and advancements in consumer electronics really make things a bit more plausible. It also caters to a specific type of personality, the kind of guy who HAS to film everything going on…and we get that kind of personality in droves.
Really, the personalities are a big part of the problem. I don’t like any of these people. I find it hard to be sympathetic to them and their plight, and I’m not alone. I could hear rumblings in the audience about “I hope she get’s it first!”. This is normal in a slasher. You pretty much get presented archetypes and then proceed to knock them down like dominoes. A found footage movie is different. It’s supposed to be a slower burn, driven by character development. I don’t really feel that here. Almost all the characters are unlikeable, and when we get the reveal of the bigfoot’s motivation for attacking them, you don’t get the mixed feelings of sympathy and anger the story needs.
Another big difference is the reveal of the monster, and this I really like. The bigfoot is really well realized, and surprisingly scary. To this day I still hear people say their biggest complaint about Blair Witch is that we never get a reveal of the monster, never any clue as to what is really going on. Never fear, Exists gives us plenty of the monster and uses the shaky came to it’s best effect in concealing it and distorting it to make it scarier. The deaths are violent and frequently at least partially on screen. It works in a way that mysterious off screen deaths would not have played here.
All in all, it’s not a bad film. It’s actually a good take on the bigfoot film – if you like those kind of movies (alas, I don’t). It’s far better than most SyFy originals or any of the dreck the Asylum keeps pumping out – though that’s a ridiculously low bar to clear.
Exists will be getting a limited theatrical run in a couple of weeks (One of those fifty screen one weekend kind of things so they can say it was theatrical in the marketing). It probably won’t be hitting Cleveland, but it will be available on VOD and streaming at the same time, and really, that’s where it belongs. I’d be a little disappointing if I plunked down my $9.00 for this at the multiplex, but if it shows up on netflix and you’re into this genre, it’s defiantly worth checking out. In the meantime, while you’re waiting, don’t forget to check out new Violent Blue strips up today!