The Cryptid Crypt: Exists

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Is it even possible to do a found footage film anymore without including the Supernatural, or Bigfoot? These two subject have pretty much dominated the medium in recent years, and aside from creative standouts like the VHS series, most filmmakers seem content with this route. I’ve reviewed a total of 3 FF style ‘Squatch-fests for this column, and for the most part, they tend to be the same. A small group goes looking for Bigfoot, stumbles across him, still acts skeptical, runs, cries and films in equal measure. All of these films seem to offer more questions about Sasquatch than answers, and heaven fucking forbid we get a good look at the beast! That is, until Eduardo Sanchez returned to the woods with his camera to remind us all how it is done.

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Sanchez, after co-directing and writing The Blair Witch Project, is Found-Footage Royalty. His work on BW, VHS2 segment “A ride in the park”, and now Exists, shows a skilled hand at work, maximizing the medium and adding believability and practicality to the shots. It makes perfect sense that our camera-man won’t stop filming, He set out to make a “kick-ass YouTube video”, so his handheld is constantly running, and Go-Pro cameras are strapped to nearly everything that you could think of.

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The best and worst of Sasquatch films often has the same problem, The creature looks like shit. Not only does Exists bring a realistic, believable looking Sasquatch to the screen, but they let us see juuuuuust enough to appreciate the design, and to keep a bit of the mystery. This is a beast that is fast, brutal, and intelligent. Fully capable of stalking us and killing us 1 by 1. If you haven’t seen the film yet, I strongly suggest making a point of doing so. I enjoyed the hell out of it, and I’m confident you will too.

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#31DaysOfHorror: Oct 26

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A Cryptid Crypt Special Report!

As regular readers know, I frequently recommend to check regularly with your local cinemas, and support as many genre events as possible. Not only does it let them know that genre films are lucrative programming, but this also usually gives you a chance to catch local filmmaking as well. Recently, The Rio Theater in Vancouver BC, hosted the Rio Grind Film Festival, an all Genre Film fest. If I had my way, I would have been there every night. Friday night I took in Suburban Gothic (Yaaaaaaay! Kat Dennings!), and the BC premier of the ABCs of Death 2. Saturday I was not able to attend, as I was taking part in the filming of a new documentary about our favorite Lowermainland Haunt, Netherworld Collectibles! The film is called Retail of the Darkest Kind, and I’ll likely be posting the trailer soon. Sunday nights lineup really only had 1 film that interested me, and that was the Braden Croft directed Feed The Gods.

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Right off the bat, I make ZERO apologies for the fact that I will not tell you details about anything not seen in the trailer. Its a new film, a good film, and it deserves to be seen for yourself. What I WILL tell you is that the plot involves two brothers and one fiance traveling to a mysterious, isolated mountain town to track down their roots, but what they find is that the sleepy mountain town is hiding secrets, and the biggest secret of all is stalking them from the woods. Sasquatch-ploitation is definetly becoming a buzzword in the Horror genre. Lost Coast Tapes, Bigfoot County, Willow Creek, and the upcoming Exists each make use of the Found Footage format, while Feed The Gods takes a traditional narrative approach. It may sound insignificant, but this was a HUGE breath of fresh air to me. The story is original, giving us just enough mythology to wonder about events that have come before and what events could still to come…or in Producer-speak, rife with sequel and prequel opportunity. The cinematography is tight, the acting is solid, and this becomes all the more impressive when considering how small the budget was. Ever heard of a shoestring budget? By all accounts, this was even thinner…like one of those super skinny shoelaces in dress shoes, where you almost need tweezers to tie ’em, and you feel like you’ll snap em if you pull to hard and you’re all like “What even IS this?”. Yeah. THAT’s how small the budget is. Also, I’ve had lots of sugar. Fuck. Go watch this movie!

Strange things are afoot at the Skinwalker Ranch

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Yup, it’s another found footage film about creepy paranormal events(feels trite saying activity). So right off the bat, most people already know if they will like this film or not. On top of all this, the film alleges to be based on true events. Here we go again…

I was familiar with the stories about the more commonly known Sherman Ranch for around two years, and have always been intrigued by the tales of UFOs, Bigfoot-like creatures, crop-circles, glowing orbs, and poltergeist activity. So upon hearing about this film, and seeing teaser trailers, I was very excited…but I couldn’t shake the feeling that this would be a repeat of what happened with “There’s nothing left to Fear” (check previous entries for my review).

The film follows an investigation of the ranch conducted by a team of experts in the wake of the disappearance of a Ranchers son right before his very eyes. Strange occurrences abound, and are captured by the oh-so-convenient camera setup, each encounter appearing more frightening than the last, until the films eerie conclusion that leaves more questions than answers.

The creature designs are ok, but I can’t help but think how much better they would have looked had they been done practically instead of CG. The acting is pretty sharp for a bunch of no-names. There aren’t any Oscar worthy performances here, but I fully believe each and every performance. Nobody seems trite or forced, and it all seems natural. Perfect for a Pseudo-Documentary Horror Film.

While the film doesn’t show us anything we haven’t seen in countless other FF films, or even a few episodes of Paranormal State…it’s still a very watchable film. Personally, I really enjoyed it. I have a soft spot for Found Footage Paranormal films. Sue me.

The Cryptid Crypt: Willow Creek

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Welcome back to another edition of the Cryptid Crypt! Our last installment was many months ago…apparently i get distracted easily. *Editor Note: The Good Doctor wrote this opening, then spent at least 3 hours fucking around with games on his phone*

I don’t know if you have ever gone to an international film festival, but it is an experience. I saw Willow Creek during the opening night of the Vancouver International Film Fest, and the experience was nearly ruined for me before i even got into the theater. I was not there to take in film after film after film, I was there as a Horror fan…and I was utterly alone. I was surrounded by douche-bags with un-ironic moustaches and gay versions of 1950s haircuts, Vintage clothes, and women who look like they are named Imogen. And scarves. Everyone was wearing fucking scarves! Luckily, I had my flask with me and managed to play a little drinking game. I would eavesdrop on the pretentious fucks surrounding me and drink every time I heard “…was SUCH an under-rated filllm…” Needless to say, I was shitfaced in no time.

Come showtime, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the writer and director of the film, Bobcat Goldthwait himself, was on hand to introduce the feature, give us a few laughs, and humbly thank us for coming out to watch his little movie. A class act! He even stayed to do a Q&A afterwards, and was all around cool as fuck. As far as the film goes, It’s a found footage Bigfoot film. By that description alone, you should now know pretty much what happens in the film. There have been a few nearly identical films (see the last edition of Cryptid Crypt for Lost Coast Tapes, and Bigfoot County). What really peaked my interest with Willow Creek is that it is a very smart approach to a film that is well worn territory. We never see the creature, but are aware of it’s pressence. The scariest moments of the film give us very little visually to work with, but rely on tension and sound, then Bobcat lets us draw our own conclusions. He gives us just enough of a set up toallow us to make up our own mind about what is happening, rather than parading a Sasquatch across the screen and telling us how it is. While it is certainly not the most exciting film I have seen, it was still a perfectly enjoyable film and a MUST-SEE for Sasquatch fans.