What I'm Watching: Exists
I've had a good run of movies lately, so I decided, hey! Let's roll the dice with more found footage! Because that can easily go either way with me. Which brings me to Exists. Which, quite frankly, is a terrible title, but I digress.
I came across Exists, as most people, by seeing the poster and trailers. And let me tell you, I think Bigfoot is absolutely perfect for found footage, and am surprised they haven't been used before now (That I can recall). Bigfoot and related creatures are *legendary* for being caught on blurry footage, off in the distance, behind some trees. That is a natural to be expanded upon as a whole movie. So, I was excited.
And then I got the DVD in my hands, and saw "From some guys who also made Blair Witch!" Oh. Aww crap. See, I kinda loathe Blair Witch. It had an unsatisfying ending, and the characters acted like plot devices more than people, and did stupid things for stupid reasons, just cause. Josh kicking the map into the river for shits and giggles is my go to moment of "This is a character being stupid". I will buy almost anything characters do in movies, as long as they don't reach THAT level.
So, of course, I dreaded characters doing stupid things in this movie, and IMMEDIATELY after the credits, there's people trying to be funny by setting a sleeping guy's beard on fire. While in a moving car. Sigh. The good news is, that's the most egregiously stupid thing anyone in this movie does, so that's a plus.
Besides that, we've got your typical setup of a group of friends heading out into the woods for a weekend of camping at a cabin that is owned by the uncle of two of them. They explain that he hasn't been to the cabin in years, because of something he saw in the woods. I really love that they've set up some folklore, and it's personal, family folklore. It provides some backstory and previous events to build off of, and to give exposition on as the movie goes on.
On the way out to the cabin, they hit something with their van, but brush it off as a deer, at the time. Of course, you already know what they hit, and the plot unfolds from there. Before everything goes to hell, you get a nice 20 minutes or so getting to know the characters, and there's some fun stuff with using the cameras to try and make a sick, viral YouTube video. it's fun, watching them ride bikes into a lake, but damnit, they snuck in a Wilhelm scream, and that absolutely ruined my suspension of disbelief. Moreso than anything, THAT should never be used in a found footage movie. That also lead to the most contrived use of cameras, because they had some on the bike helmets for the stunt jumps, but then when one of them goes biking to try and get helped after their car is trashed by the creature, they leave the helmet and bike cams on. Sure, you need to do that for the story, but it was SO SO forced.
Anyways, eventually the Bigfoot comes along to deal with the car accident. And I am not talking about exchanging insurance information. It was nicely paced how the Bigfoot slowly poked and prodded at the edges of their land, came closer and closer, and eventually things kicked off, and the shit hits the fan, and it just never stops.
From there, the movie is pretty much just running and hiding punctuated by action scenes, and the pacing works well, just as they catch their breath, something happens. Like, rocks being hurled at our characters.
Also, they reveal the creature in bits and pieces, as one does in the best of circumstances. And let me tell you, if you're worried that all you're going to see are glimpses out of the corner of your eye? Shots whizzing past the camera? Nope, you get to see this creature in all its glory quite a bit, and I'm saying that without any spoilers, because there are some AMAZING moments that I do not want to ruin. Let me just say, when they're in the camper they find? Oh yeah, you'll know it. I literally gasped and shouted, "Holy crap!" at that.
Which made it just as hard to try and find a good thumbnail image for the review, because I want to show a cool image, but I don't want to ruin any of the Bigfoot 'money shots', as it were! No WAY could I show the full Bigfoot, that's the best reason to see this movie!
One other good thing that Exists managed to pull off, that FF movies have problems with, was the ending. IT HAD ONE! *tosses confetti* Thank Corman for that. And it was a pretty satisfying one, too. But then we do have the usual problem...how was this footage FOUND, exactly? Too many cameras left in the woods being stalked by Bigfoot. I just don't see how this footage could have been compiled.
Oh, and there's music too. That bothers some people, but it's *mostly* subtle, and I only barely noticed it. It doesn't make *sense* but it didn't bother me, either.
So, the movie has its flaws, the typical pile of found footage tropes (PUT DOWN THE CAMERA!!) and some okay acting. If you don't mind the usual found footage tropes, and want to see a decent Bigfoot movie, this is definitely a good one to go with. I enjoyed it, and at 80 minutes, the runtime was just about perfect for this story. It's action packed, it's well paced, and it actually tells a pretty complete and compelling story.
Exists is definitely worth a look.