Hello ladies and gentlemen, Muldoon here with a short and sweet thought jot on a fun film from SXSW: EXISTS. From Eduardo Sanchez (BLAIR WITCH; LOVELY MOLLY) we hop right back into the woods with yet another PSA about staying the hell out of nature. This time around it's all about Sasquatch action and boy is it a fun ride. I actually did a set visit (which will be posted later) and got a first hand glimpse at how they pulled off some of the gags in the film. I've been on a number of sets in varying degrees and one thing I've yet to lock down is "Is this movie going to be good or not?" There's always the "They had this beautiful set to play around in and the dude shot in mediums and close ups? Por que??" Sanchez and his team clearly knew what they were doing; the movie's fun. I actually missed the film's first three screenings during the fest (I work super early, so a midnight slot is murder), but luckily enough folks out there liked what they saw and the film won the Audience Award - giving it one more screening, a screening I was able to sneak into.
The film's got a fairly familiar storyline, a group of college kids/teens decide to go stay at their uncle's cabin and while on their way there happen to run directly into the TWILIGHT ZONE (sidestepping spoilers here) and do something that pisses off a creature that then becomes hell-bent on revenge! Consisting of Dora Madison Burge (DEXTER), Samuel Davis (MACHETE KILLS), Denise Williamson (BLACKTINO), Roger Edwards (BAD KIDS GO TO HELL), Chris Osborn (THE ORIGINALS): the cast of young’uns have a real vibe, where they all click and mesh in their own unique ways. When your film consists of five or six folks running for their lives, it's damn important that you actually care and these young actors did just that; you feel for them. "Muldoon, I get it - now tell me about Bigfoot already!" Bam, Brian Steele... The guy's arguably one of the best working body suit actors out there. (I put him on that same Doug Jones pedestal.) He books so many jobs for a reason and EXISTS is yet another example of how the guy disappears into his role. While yes, the leads nailed their parts, the film really centers around sasquatch and if you buy that it's a living-breathing creature and not a guy with prosthetics on. Sanchez hedged his bets and chose the right guy for the role. Bigfoot feels real.
Let's hop on over to the film's look: a GoPro heavy mixture of jump cuts and consumer cameras all seem to work. It's got a style similar to found footage, but unique unto itself. Conceptually, it's not your average film. It's not shot with a wide > medium > close up. It's got a live, natural, raw feel, which is literally first person at times (the bulk of it). To put it simply, if you've ever seen a "When Skydiving goes wrong" or "Narrow Shark attack caught on video" style thing on YouTube, this is along those lines - but with a giant skunk ape style pissed off monster.
Bottom line: would I be cool spending the $9.00 for a ticket to see this in theaters? Yes. Does it flow well? Yep. Does the beast look real/threatening? Hell yes. Would I tell my friends to go see it? Yes, and that's exactly what I'm doing... It's a fun film that's worth checking out, so if you weren't already a little weary of stepping into the woods - seek this movie out! Be sure to check out the film's Facebook page for more info!
- Mike McCutchen