Of the countless imitators The Blair Witch Project has spawned, Bigfoot: The Lost Coast Tapes is probably the closest there is to a full-blown rip off. Apart from the fact that both movies are found footage mockumentaries about the terrible events that befall a group of amateur filmmakers in the middle of the woods, they also share numerous technical touches, including running through dense foliage in the darkness, intimate close-ups on the actors’ faces, the use of night vision lenses, mysterious noises emanating from the forest, a lot of screaming out someone’s name, and the ever-reliable use of the Queasy Cam. The difference, of course, is that the subject of this film is Bigfoot, the ape-like creature fabled to inhabit the forested regions of the Pacific Northwest.
There’s also the fact that the team doesn’t consist of student filmmakers. Instead, it consists of people affiliated with reality TV. The leader of the pack, so to speak, is Los Angeles-based investigative journalist Sean Reynolds (Drew Rausch), who’s obviously desperate to revive his television career and restore his reputation. Now a staunch skeptic, he believes he has the next great idea, namely to disprove all paranormal claims as hoaxes and document them on camera. He assembles his old film crew and travels to the Lost Coast section of Northern California; once there, they meet and handsomely pay a grizzled man named Carl Drybeck (Frank Ashmore), who claims to be in possession of a Sasquatch body. His cabin, located smack dab in the middle of nowhere, is surrounded by an electrified fence. Obviously paranoid, he spends most of the film talking like a counselor telling a ghost story around a campfire. For reasons not made entirely clear, he confiscates the crew’s cell phones and stashes them in a drawer.
The crew itself, though small, is an assortment of tiresome horror movie typecasts. There’s the cameraman, Darryl (Rich McDonald), who would be a perfect fit in one of those raunchy teen comedies where college-age guys do little more than drink, laugh, and swear. If this were a slasher film, he’d be the guy that meets his untimely end after going off to have sex. There’s the sound engineer, Kevin (Noah Weisberg), a nerdy spaz who spends most of his screen time either complaining or freaking out. And then there’s the producer, Robyn (Ashley Wood), who just happens to be Sean’s ex-girlfriend. She’s also something of a psychic, and when she’s not picking up on good or bad vibes, she insists on performing cleansing ceremonies with rings of candles and burning incense.
The movie is structured pretty much as we expect. The crew arrives, Drybeck gives a series of ominous warnings, strange growling sounds are heard at night, claw marks are found on the outside shutters, footprints are found in the mud, tree branches mysteriously fall over, and people walk around through dark sections of forest with flashlights. Sean, still firm in his disbelief of Bigfoot, adamantly claims that the cameras keep rolling no matter what, for the truth needs to be known. Someone drives off and apparently abandons the remaining campers, while someone else declares that enough is enough and quits the shoot. It’s eventually discovered that all major roads leading out of the woods have been blocked by fallen trees. Then the attacks start; there’s infighting, flashing lights, injured bodies being dragged off somewhere, some blood and gore, and a lot of screaming.
At a certain point, Robyn entertains the possibility that the Sasquatch presence, if that’s indeed what it is, may not be dangerous. If the old Native American legends are true, then Bigfoot is not a destructive ape creature but rather a guardian that protects people from the evil spirit world. Drybeck doesn’t believe this for an instant; Bigfoot is a predatory creature, and that’s that. Who’s right? To be perfectly honest, I have no idea; the final scene, which mimics Blair Witch in the aggressiveness of its camerawork, is a confusing blur of unexplained paranormal activity. The final line of dialogue doesn’t help matters much, and neither does the last image we see before the camera cuts to black. Did the filmmakers have a complete scene in mind, or were they making things up as they went along? Or is it possible that I wasn’t paying attention and missed something important?
The inherent problem of all found footage mockumentaries, even the good ones, is that they never include an adequate back story for when and how the footage was discovered. Watching Bigfoot: The Lost Coast Tapes, I had to question the plausibility of someone actually obtaining what Sean and his team captured on film, as geography, climate, time, and destructive otherworldly forces would make such a task next to impossible. I might have been able to look past this had the film not been so blatantly derivative. It is, in fact, such a bundle of clichés that, which just a little extra effort, director Corey Grant and writers Brian Kelsey and Bryan O’Cain could have had a rather effective parody on their hands. God knows the found footage genre is ripe for one of those.
What did you think of this review?
Fun to Read
About the reviewer
Chris Pandolfi (Chris_Pandolfi)
Growing up a shy kid in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles, Chris Pandolfi knows all about the imagination. Pretend games were always the most fun for him, especially on the school playground; he and his … more
Consider the Source
Use Trust Points to see how much you can rely on this review.