Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Bigfoot: The Lost Coast Tapes (2012) review



Drew Rausch (Sean Reynolds), Rich McDonald (Darryl Coleman), Ashley Wood (Robyn Conway), Noah Weisberg (Kevin Lancaster), Frank Ashmore (Carl Drybeck)

Directed by Corey Grant

"Have you ever asked yourself why the physical evidence of the Sasquatch... its bones, its remains... why nothing conclusive has ever been found?"

The Short Version: Bigfoot is the perfect platform for the Found Footage format, and it finally gets a go at it with the debut feature from Corey Grant. Films like BOGGY CREEK (1972) and Sasquatch documentaries were the prototype for these kinds of movies, so it's high time a bonafide Bigfoot flick gets the FF treatment. Outside of the standard cliches of this genre style, Grant's film introduces some intriguing ideas that are never sufficiently explored, but act as a tease that will hopefully be expanded upon in the proposed sequel. It won't win favor with horror fans expecting wall-to-wall blood and guts, but it offers gorgeous scenery, some interesting characters and unusual ideas that enhance the spookier moments. Recommended viewing for FF aficionados and Bigfoot enthusiasts. 

The crew for the TV program Hoax Busters learn of a man living in the dense forests of California's Lost Coast who claims to possess the dead corpse of a young Sasquatch. Alleging to having had contact with the mysterious creatures, the group of skeptical investigators make the trek into the woods to see if there is in fact a Bigfoot roaming the land. They find much more than they bargained for.

Found Footage movies continue to be a lucrative filmmaking proposition; not only for the big studios, but for the independents where aspiring filmmakers can experiment with the form and hone their craft inexpensively. First time director Corey Grant uses this template to his advantage with varying degrees of success in this colorful, occasionally provocative, and modest spooker.

The characters are the typical sort of most FF films, especially Sean, the leader of the intrepid investigators. By the final act, his crew have had enough, yet he blindingly decides to carry on to get that "last shot" regardless of the serious danger they're in. The acting is good, if heavy handed, and a bit too much for this sort of thing. The performances are never natural to the point where the viewer believes they are watching found tapes that the film crew pays for with their lives. Because of this, you sometimes forget you're watching a Found Footage picture, as opposed to a regular movie.

Even so, the characters are lively and distinguished by some singular feature to their personality. Some of this takes the form of comedy relief, which is provided by the bespectacled sound man, Kevin (Noah Weisberg). The mountain man, Drybeck (Frank Ashmore) comes off both as creepy and sage-like. He has a partner -- a Canadian tracker named Jacque LaRoche -- who isn't seen much, and ultimately becomes a minor red herring when the group begin to think there may not be an actual Bigfoot at all.

"Did you know that the Native Americans believe he's got one foot in the spirit world able to move between our world and the next?" 

Clues are dropped for the audience here and there by Drybeck as to the nature of the creatures, as well as hints that there may be something else out there in the woods other than a Sasquatch. For instance, Drybeck mentions the Sasquatch in relation to Indian folklore and their connection to a spirit world.

It's never made explicit as to what it is, but it's obvious as the film gets closer and closer to the conclusion that there is something else stalking our protagonists. When the New Age psychic member of the group is picked up and carried off by something big, she later states that she felt she was being protected, and not being harmed. At this point in the film, we see a growing presence of danger such as quick glimpses of glowing eyes (see insert) watching in the woods and strange beams of light.

I am speculating that the supernatural beings are the legendary Wendigo -- gigantic, malevolent spirits whose lore varies from one Indian tribe to the next (note the horned head preparing to run past the screen in the pic above). They're described as possessing a rotting odor about them; this is mentioned in the film when the group find what they call a Bigfoot nest. Drybeck also references a spirit world, which accounts for the bizarre beams of light.

At the end, Drybeck fires high up into the air at something; people are literally sucked out of windows and other peculiar moments dictate that there's something else other than a big, hairy monster running around. What we glimpse during the last scene couldn't possibly be a Sasquatch (whatever it is, it seems to have a cloven foot), and one of the actors proclaims, "It's not a Bigfoot".

It's also worth mentioning that the infamous Patterson-Gimlin short film from 1967 is a topic of discussion here. That footage has long been held under great controversy as to whether or not a bonafide Bigfoot was captured on camera. Even after it was seemingly debunked as a hoax nearly 40 years after it was made, it still maintains a hot topic of discussion for various reasons. 

For a low budget production (which opened in limited release the same day as PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4), the film looks polished, benefiting heavily by the encroaching Lost Coast forest and desolate beaches. The brooding, enormous trees and surrounding fauna are a great asset to this movie. The suspense is sporadic and genuine 'boo' moments are minimal, though. However, keep an eye on the background during the spookier bits as you will see things run past the oblivious characters. For a first effort that succeeds in some areas and falters in others, this was a satisfactory, and very well made movie.

This review is representative of the XLrator DVD.

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