We’ve seen a resurgence in some classic monsters – the vampire and the werewolf, to name but two – but you never really see any horror movies dealing with Bigfoot. On the strength of Exists, I certainly hope we never see any more – it is cripplingly dull, full of human facsimiles and scenes that are often unwatchable.
Five friends travel to a remote cabin in the woods and plan to record their entire weekend (because, well, you know). On the way, they hear strange noises and seem to hit something. Their party plans are quickly ruined, however, when they find themselves being attacked by a strange and mysterious force – the cabin is in the middle of Bigfoot’s territory, and it is not happy to have trespassers there. Facing the angry creature, the friends must do all in their power to fight it off and stay alive.
The description I’ve just offered provokes more interest than actually watching the film – a movie running at 81 minutes should not feel long and padded, and yet Exists does. The plot is bare bones and yet feels less than that, and watching the movie, we get the impression that some things were added in just to bump up the running time. Take, for example, an exchange between two of the male characters, who I think were meant to be brothers. Having spent the previous night awake and listening to weird noises and an approaching creature, there can be no reason that one, being offered video proof of the creature stalking them, simply rejects it and tells the other to grow up.
Of course, I may be being a bit harsh in treating the people in this film as characters – they are five bland and interchangeable people with no obvious characteristics or personalities (aside from the typically dickish cameraman, because every found-footage horror needs one of them, and even any semblance of a personality from him vanishes the moment Bigfoot appears). Whether this is down to the actors or the hamstrung screenplay, I don’t know.
Yeah, if this is what Jamie Nash calls a screenplay, I think he perhaps ought to find another job fairly quickly. Aside from the pencil sketch characters, there are also various aching plot holes and problems throughout. One character mentions that nobody ever comes to the cabin or this area of the woods, only for another to know the area and shortcuts there exceptionally well. Similarly, there is no reason for the Bigfoot creature to torment the humans as it does and, considering the fury with which it attacks later in the film, the fact that it merely runs away in its first couple of confrontations makes no sense.
Most frustratingly of all, though, is that a lot of the film takes place in complete and utter darkness. There must be fifteen minutes of it or so in which you simply cannot see what is on screen, having to try and discern it from the random groans from man and monster, and it is completely inexcusable. For a quarter of a movie to be unwatchable by design is a crippling flaw (especially because the many, many cameras all have night vision settings – I suppose the idea is that we’re meant to find Bigfoot scarier because we can’t see it, but it doesn’t work).
There are some good points to the movie – the Bigfoot creature itself is well done, and the earlier scenes in which we are treated only to an unsettling mix of noises are definitely the scariest part of the film – but on the whole, Exists is a poor specimen indeed. It is somewhat sad to think that Eduardo Sánchez, who started a whole subgenre with his work on The Blair Witch Project, has fallen far from those lofty heights, creating something complete inane. Just because this movie exists, it is not a good reason to seek it out.
Director: Eduardo Sánchez
Cast: Chris Osborn (Brian), Dora Madison Burge (Dora), Roger Edwards (Todd), Denise Williamson (Elizabeth), Samuel Davis (Matt), Brian Steele (Sasquatch)
Running Time: 81 Mins