With the remake of EVIL DEAD in theaters, I felt that it was a good time to revisit a recent release that takes place in a cabin, much like EVIL DEAD. A few months back, I had the pleasure of guest hosting on a horror website called Horror Palace and reviewing BIGFOOT: THE LOST COAST TAPES for their podcast Grisly Corner. They’ve since stopped podcasting but I stand by my review. If you’ve seen BIGFOOT: THE LOST COAST TAPES, you’ve come to your own conclusions already but for those that haven’t, let me tell you, it’s… a movie.
Let me start by stating that I’m not going to slam the film makers for what they have. I’ve been involved in film making as I’m a screenwriter and I know that there are thousands of decisions that go into the process and frankly, it only takes a choice few poor decisions to ruin the final product.
For a found footage film, it’s pretty clear even if you aren’t looking at anything important. Already, this is the type of decision that can waylay a promising film. Found footage is a tool that can be used to heighten the sense of immersion in a feature but when it’s used to hide the meager budget of a film it has to be done strategically. If there isn’t any care given at this point, the whole project is a waste.
We start with an introduction to the characters. Drew Rausch plays Sean Reyolds, a film maker looking for the Big Guy. He’s likable in the part of a character that’s a total douche bag. I mean that in a good way, he really plays him well as the type of guy you wish herpes on. We’re also introduced to Rich McDonald as Darryl Coleman. He’s the guy responsible for anything not getting caught on camera because he’s the camera guy. There’s a love connection between Sean and Robyn Conway, played by Ashley Wood. She’s the producer of the show and the target of many advances throughout the story. Rounding out our film crew is Noah Weisberg as Keven Lancaster, the sound guy. Each character is quirky, snarky and well portrayed but if there were one more female, we could have Scooby Doo. These characters are those archetypes. This isn’t a bad thing because Scooby Doo is very entertaining. At least to my twelve year old mentality.
At this point I’d like to ask why a Bigfoot film has to be either horror or comedy? If we discover them and they are indeed people, wouldn’t it be better to have a large variety of genres that insult them and their way of life instead of just horror and comedy. This could have been a great sci-fi film about people encountering a “lost tribe” and you could play up the fact that one of the tribe has been murdered for the sake of publicity. Seems a bit more interesting to me than “monster in the woods”.
We’re given some character bits to absorb. Kevin is a bit naïve and doesn’t know how to properly do his job. Sean is… I swear, Sean should have a nozzle coming out of the top of his head, he’s such a douche. He’s the typical “Hollywood talent” eager to make it big. One of the best characters is the token black guy, Curtis, that they leave behind because “black people don’t go camping”. His words, not mine. If I were the writer, I would have made that guy the lead. Do something interesting with your film and break the traditions set forth by the movies that have come before.
By the time Frank Ashmore shows up as Carl Drybeck, the Bigfoot hunter who’s bagged a real Bigfoot body, you are kind of hoping that he massacres at least half the group for the sake of shutting them up. Oh, by the way, the Tall One’s appearance is much like it is in reality, shadowy and fleeting. We never really get a Squatch, which is why we are interested in the found footage to begin with. Seems to me like a waste.
Carl Drybeck is… honestly, I can’t help but dislike this character. He’s trying to tell a tale and make it seem mysterious instead of sounding like an eye witness. If a hunter has an encounter with a large animal, he tells it with a sense of pride. Pride that he got away with his life and pride that he’s seen something few people have. This guy whispers everything. To give you an idea of how it is, imagine Tom Waites whispering to you where a bathroom is. I swear you would rather mess yourself than go anywhere this guy suggests. But alas, these characters are bound to make such dumb mistakes.
Characters do dumb things then increasingly dumber things until we hear some roars coming from the woods. Then they do some more dumb things. That’s what the back of the DVD should say. Now, I’m not going to lie and say that if I were there, I wouldn’t get curious and seek out the source of the sounds but I’m the kind of person that respects the woods and the type of beasties that hunt at night. Therefore, it would be with much caution that I would explore the woods late at night. These clowns are traipsing about without any caution at all.
At one point Drybeck leaves the group to fend for themselves. Does the group decide to leave? Nope. They are going to stay and get footage. I forget which mistake number this is that our characters have made but it will prove to be the worst.
They investigate the cabins and discover that there’s been some damage done by something in the night. Claw marks. Broken boards. Urine stains. URINE STAINS? That’s right, URINE STAINS! That’s this movie distilled into a single shot.
There are cool parts here and there but nothing that really pulls you in and keeps you focused. Kevin hears someone talking in his sound rig and gets the others to quiet down long enough to listen to it but we never hear it. Whatever it was creeps him out but it could have been the mating call of the North American Honey Badger for all we know because we don’t get to listen to it. The film makers give us a tiny hint at what it might be later on but we’re never sure and that is disappointing. So, Kevin is creeped out enough that he leaves. Does it make sense that he decides to leave? On foot? By himself? No, no and no.
Then we get the “no matter what happens, don’t stop filming!” speech from Sean. Right before an edit.
Also, Bigfoot seems to affect film equipment. It’s annoying. Almost as much as the shoddy makeup.
Drybeck returns with an injured friend in tow and then whisks Sean and Darryl off to view the body of the adolescent Bigfoot that he supposedly killed.
There really isn’t a plot except that these folks are just trying to get their show. There’s information discussed that seems to hint at something bigger but it’s so vague (much like the Bigfoot in this film) that we are left to wonder what it all means. They find lush scenery that is beautiful and would increase the production value of any film and instead of using it to their advantage, they just glance over it. It’s disappointing.
We see something caught on camera but it’s NOT Bigfoot. It’s not even a little foot. In fact, if I had to say it was anything, I’d call it someone’s homework for After Effects class. Probably a remedial class.
Once at the box that contains the Sasquatch corpse, Drybeck hears something, so instead of opening the box and revealing a costume stuffed with dead chicken carcasses, he leaves them with the box and goes to investigate. I’m not saying there was nothing in the box… wait, yes I am. That’s exactly what I’m saying. In fact, if you listen to when the lock hits the box, you can hear that it sounds hollow. Anyone that’s disposed of a body knows that a body absorbs sound. I get that they didn’t have the money to put a body in the box but then it just feels like a cop out when we make a big deal about going to see it, only to get to the box and he doesn’t even open it and let them peer in without their cameras. Yes, it’s that silly.
We see something again but it could have been a golem made up of William Shatner’s hair pieces. Everyone panics, more crappy decisions are made and tension mounts in a rather “meh” fashion.
Thankfully, the movie is only 85 minutes long. There’s a twist ending. Not a Shyamalan twist but a twist none the less. I swear, none of it ends up making a bit of sense. Namely because if this is found footage than the people that edited it together knows how it ends which means they are idiots for giving it the title it has.
Yes, Adam, but is it all bad? No. Like I said, the performances are good even if they are playing annoying characters that like to hear themselves talk. I hope that was intentional. The location is spectacular as well. I imagine the writer wrote the scenes with notes like “ad lib ‘what was that?’ and ‘did you see that?’ as much as you’d like”. There’s two writers credited. Brian Kelsey and Bryan O’Cain but I don’t understand how this couldn’t have been written by one person. Mario Puzo wrote the novel that GODFATHER is based on and co-wrote the script with Francis Ford Coppola. That makes sense because it’s an amazing film. This is not.
Remember when you took literature classes and the teacher described all the parts of a story? I have a feeling that the people involved with this production don’t remember that class at all. Maybe they were homeschooled?
Is it worth renting? On the podcast I said “rent whatever is next to it because it’s bound to be better”, but I’ve seen worse. There are whole careers made out of making horrible films and this does feel like there was effort given. I just don’t think it’s worth the time (having sat through it twice, myself), money or mental anguish resulting from the ending but it’s far better than anything Syfy will produce. If you dig found footage, give this a chance but go in with tiny expectations.