Saturday, February 11, 2017

In short: Valley of the Sasquatch (2015)

aka Hunting Grounds

After the death of his mother and his father Roger’s (Jason Vail) descent into alcoholism and bad luck, college age Michael (Miles Joris-Peyrafitte) has to move into an old cabin in the woods with his him. When Roger’s drinking buddy Sergio (David Saucedo) and Michael’s uncle Will (D’Angelo Midili, looking at least five years too young for the role) visit for an inaugural weekend, a hunting trip leads everyone into a lethal encounter with a local bigfoot population that has been disturbed by logging, and – not having any bigfoot psychiatrists – has a tendency to cope rather violently.

John Portanova’s bigfoot movie (whose characters never actually use the Sasquatch term because the filmmakers didn’t plan on using the S word in the title either) goes through all the standards of this particular horror sub-genre, clearly telling its tale with a degree of knowledge of not only other bigfoot movies but also of bigfoot lore. Because this is the post-Syfy Original-age, there is a family reconciliation subplot and some decently thought out family drama to lighten the load of the monster attacks and to get the audience to care about the future bigfoot victims. The writing isn’t quite sharp enough to not make one wish for the introductions to be over quickly, nor is the acting quite good enough for what the film attempts there, but I appreciate it at least trying to elevate the characters to something more than mere bigfoot fodder.

Once the monster attack business starts, the film uses its obviously very limited budget quite well: Portanova’s direction is matter of fact but quite assured, the bigfoot suits are decent, there’s even an accomplished arm ripping (an act that is to bigfoot flicks like gut-munching is to zombie films), and the action is budget-conscious but flows nicely enough in a conservative monster movie way. All in all, Valley of the Sasquatch is a perfectly fine little monster movie that recommends itself for those times in one’s movie watching life when one just wants to see a pleasantly competent bigfoot movie and some ripped off limbs.

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