Seemed like a good idea at the time.
Five friends take a trip to a remote cabin for a weekend of fun. As soon as they arrive, the cabin is attacked by some wild creature that just might be the elusive Bigfoot.
Say your uncle had a cabin that he abandoned years before because he saw something that freaked him out. Would you steal his keys, and invite 3 friends to join you for a wild weekend at that very location? Me neither. But this is just what brothers Matt (Samuel Davis, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For) and Brian (Chris Osborn) do in the Lions Gate release Exists. Okay, let me just get it out on the table -this is a found footage Bigfoot movie. There, I said it. But before you roll your eyes clear to the back of your head, Mr. or Mrs. Negatory, let me tell you that Exists is brought to you by Director Eduardo Sanchez, the guy who started the whole ‘found footage’ craze with The Blair Witch Project back in 1999. And with Exists, Sanchez and writer Jaime Nash shows everyone just how to do a genre that has come close to overstaying its welcome.
It turns out that Bigfoot is alive and well, and pissed off at the brothers and their friends. They don’t know why they’ve been targeted by Sasquatch -since it’s been said by the “experts” that it only attacks when provoked. How these “experts” know about Bigfoot’s aversion to violence is never explained, but I can flow with it. Regardless of what the so-called experts say, Matt, Brian, and crew are in deep doo-doo, and must barricade themselves in the cabin to escape Bigfoot’s wrath. Bet now they wish they had listened to their crazy uncle.
This film works because of the top notch writing, directing, and acting. This cast of relative unknowns, had me hooked from the opening scene; a nicely done home movie style montage of their trip to the cabin. There’s no dialogue just a beautiful soundtrack, with images of the friends enjoying each other’s company; it is the relative calm before the Bigfoot storm. And without uttering a word, the intro gives the viewer an insight into who these friends are, and gets us to care about what happens to them even before anything terrible does.
Sometimes in these found footage thingies, the constant presence of cameras can be annoying, and feels artificial. But in Exists, writer Jaime Nash has a perfect explanation for the camera gear. Brian and Matt have come up for the weekend to film Matt and his buddy Todd (Roger Edwards Captain Phillips), showing off their skills doing various bike stunts; then the footage will be uploaded to Matt and Brian’s YouTube channel. But Brian also has ulterior motives for coming up that weekend. Even though he thinks his uncle is nuts, Brian has been doing some research regarding Bigfoot sightings in the area, and hopes to get footage of the large hairy beast to show on their YouTube channel. So there are helmets equipped with GoPro gear and cameras with night vision capabilities, and it all makes complete sense in the day and age of viral videos.
As good as the actors are, if the monster looks like its wearing a costume purchased from the local Walmart, no amount of acting will overcome that. In Exists the Bigfoot costume is scary as hell, and thanks to the talents of Brian Steele, who has donned costumes for such films as Hellboy, and Predators, his menacing 6’7” frame is as imposing as any horror movie creature I’ve ever seen. When he appears on screen, I eeked out and shrieked every time I got just a glimpse of him. And a glimpse is all Sanchez gives us. He judiciously uses his monster in ways that makes his appearances all the more terrifying. One particularly horrifying scene, Bigfoot pushes an RV over a small precipice, trying to get at some of the friends who are hiding inside. It lands on its side with Brian looking up at the sky through the opened door. Suddenly Bigfoot jumps down onto the camper and reaches in to grab Brian. I tell you, I might’ve wet myself a bit at that moment. The special features shows us the secrets behind filming that scene, and even with that peak behind the curtain, it is still frightening to watch.
The Lions Gate release of Exists is a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation. Sanchez uses many filming perspectives meant to represent Brian’s camera view, the GoPro view, and the traditional director’s view, all of which are crisp and easy to see. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, makes for easy to hear dialogue, even during the scenes when Bigfoot is rampaging outside the cabin. The wonderful score by Nima Fakhrara is a great accompaniment to this surprisingly wonderful film. Extras include a fascinating 3-part behind the scenes featurette, another featurette called “Bringing Bigfoot to Life,” and a few deleted scenes.
It’s not easy to take a found footage film about a Sasquatch and make it feel fresh, but Exists does just that. Sanchez wowed audiences in the 90s with the legend of the Blair Witch, and he has done the same thing with this movie about the mythical Bigfoot creature.
No Guilt exists in this movie.
Exists (DVD) 2015, Universal, 81 minutes, R (2014)
VIDEO: 1.78:1 AUDIO: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English) SUBTITLES: English SDH, Spanish EXTRAS: Commentary, Behind the Scenes Featurettes, Deleted scenes ACCOMPLICES: IMDB