Reviewed by Michael Erb
Troubled investigative journalist Sean Reynolds is looking for a comeback. With a small production crew, Reynolds goes to California’s Lost Coast in hopes of exposing a hoax while filming the pilot for a new reality series. The group meets Carl Drybeck, a man living along the Lost Coast claiming to have the carcass of a dead Sasquatch. After handing over his life savings for the chance to interview Drybeck and tape his evidence, strange things start to occur. Crew members are attacked by unseen forces in the night and something keeps blocking the roads back to town. Reynolds and his team start to see that Drybeck might not be lying.
Bigfoot: The Lost Coast Tapes is the first horror film from director Corey Grant and it shows his potential as a filmmaker. Unfortunately, the movie also has a good bit of wasted potential and misfires. The found footage format makes sense for this story, as it’s supposed to be the raw tape from a reality TV pilot. Also, the professional cameraman character explains why so much of the film is not in shaky cam. But, shaky cam does make an appearance in the third act just as every character is too scared to hold a camera steady. The sudden unstable angles help build tension a little bit, but ultimately make the finale unsatisfying.
I was hoping for some memorable shots given how much Reynolds talks about getting the show’s “money shot”. There are a few images that stand out, one of which is spoiled right on the poster. The up-the-nose shot from Blair Witch is replicated as well, making the moment unintentionally funny. But there’s no one image that really defines the movie visually. Not even the partial reveal of the group’s adversary feels or looks all that satisfying.
The story is alright and presents some cool ideas. There are some hints about what happened to Reynolds that are mentioned casually. There’s a nice twist toward the end that changes how you look at Bigfoot, also asking who the real antagonist is. However, the dialogue just doesn’t sound right for a found footage movie. It’s actually a pretty decent script; it’s just that everyone sounds like they’re an actor in a movie. The dialogue in other found footage films like Blair Witch and Cloverfield fits those movies because it sounds slightly awkward and natural. Here, characters are way too smooth with their speech. It feels like this movie started out as a traditional shoot, but went to found footage for budgetary reasons.
The actors do fine jobs even if they don’t sound like characters from this type of film. The only really bad performance is from Noah Weisberg. He plays the irritating and idiotic sound guy, Kevin. The character is probably supposed to be annoying, but Weisberg just makes him unbearable. When Kevin is finally out of the movie, it’s a relief.
There are a good amount of computer effects in Bigfoot that are luckily used well. Instead of getting a full CGI shot of a Sasquatch, you only get shadows and glimpses of things darting around in the background. It has some truly effective moments but the graphic teases get a little tiresome after a few night scenes.
There are a few practical effects in the movie and they look pretty cool. When you finally get to see some woodland creatures of legend, they look good. These shots are very brief but help the tension of the movie a lot. There are of course gore shots that look fine, but one is the most disturbing thing in the whole film. There’s a failed suicide shown in its entirety and it is gruesome. It’s the one money shot the advertising cannot afford to show, but it’s the best special effect in the movie.
Bigfoot: The Lost Coast Tapes is far better than it should be, but that doesn’t mean it’s good. Director Corey Grant and the cast all clearly have some talent. They probably will make good movies in the future. However, Bigfoot has parts that are kind of smart and execution that misses the mark. The movie is only okay; nothing more and nothing less.