Sunday, March 1, 2015

In short: Exists (2014)

Brothers Brian (Chris Osborn) and Matt (Samuel Davis) take their friends Dora (Dora Madison Burge), Elizabeth (Denise Williamson) and Todd (Roger Edwards) to their uncle’s cabin in the deep dark Texan woods for a weekend of mild partying. They sort of forgot to mention to their friends that they had to steal their uncle’s key, for he doesn’t want anyone to go out there anymore after he had a close encounter with a bigfoot that scared the crap out of him, though. Of course, who would believe that kind of story?

However, the young people soon find themselves repeatedly attacked by a very big, very hairy, and decidedly angry bigfoot. Since there’s no cell reception in large parts of the area, and the bigfoot takes the group’s car out first, things will become quite dangerous and bloody.

So, it looks like most critics loathe Blair Witch Project’s Eduardo Sanchez’ return to the POV/found footage style of horror filmmaking with quite the passion. I honestly can’t quite understand why. Sure, the plot reasons for this being filmed by the young people themselves seems particularly thin this time around, the characters are barely even ciphers, and there’s no depth whatsoever to be found here, but as a fast, furious, and often very suspenseful little tale of a bunch of people totally out of their depth when having to fight off a rampaging monster, Exists is really rather great.

Sanchez doesn’t use the POV style as an excuse for artless filmmaking. There are quite a few finely composed shots, and many moments where the film’s tension is sold via clever use of little dirty tricks and some excellent sound design that are far from any emulation of authenticity. And if you’re like me and like to see a film’s monster from time to time, you’ll be happy to hear that we get quite a lot of threatening shots of a guy in a cute monster suit being perfectly monstrous, for Sanchez sets many of the film’s most effective (and most monster-containing) scenes in actual daylight, and for my tastes, he more than gets away with it.

Which, honestly, is a perfectly wonderful thing for a monster movie to achieve, and if you go into Exists expecting a really good monster movie, you’ll not be disappointed, I think.

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