November 5, 2014

VOD Review: Exists (2014)
Found Footage movies are just about at the point that slasher flicks were in the late 80's; they're just not working as well as they once did, and they're all starting to feel the same. FF started out great, felt fresh, and offered some genuine scares that were steeped in "reality," but all of that is starting to fade away with each new effort. We know all the tricks now, and without those tricks being effective, the average FF film plays like some sort of shitty student film.

The idea of doing a FF movie based around the Bigfoot mythos immediately feels like a misstep to us. Bigfoot is more of a joke than it is any sort of creepy Urban Legend, as evidenced by the humorous beef jerky commercials that involve people "messing" with the fabled beast. And as bottom of the barrel as most Reality TV Shows are, does it get any worse than a gang of "simple folk" running around the in the woods, legitimately searching for Bigfoot? They're not even doing it ironically. They're serious about this.

Willow Creek (our review HERE) handled the whole Bigfoot/Found Footage merger about as well as we could have hoped, but unfortunately, Exists is no Willow Creek. Given that Eduardo Sanchez helped give birth to the entire Found Footage conceit as we know it today with The Blair Witch Project, makes that fact even worse.

Exists centers around Brian; a wannabe YouTube star who figures that taking video of he and his friends jumping bikes into a lake seems like a good idea in his 30's. So he and his brother steal the keys to their Uncle's cabin (after they've been told to never, ever go there), rig their bikes and car with cameras galore, round up the DudeBro crew, and head out into the deep woods of East Texas. Because it's party time!

After a crazy-fun day of jumping ramps on their bikes, and just bro-ing it up in general, the friends head to the party cabin, ready to party. On their way, they hit something with their car, which prompts something in the woods around them to start howling and growling, presumably in anger. Yes, Sasquatch is pissed off, and they are going to pay for their transgression! Being that it's the middle of the night, and they're literally in the sticks, they book it to the cabin, figuring that they'll be safe there. Also, because it's party time.

It's bad enough that when they arrive they find the cabin to be in a shambles, but then Bigfoot attacks, making things even worse. They do everything they can to survive the onslaught, while still trying to film everything that's happening, because, YouTube? They eventually end up hiding in the basement (which doesn't work out so well), riding for help on a bicycle (which works out even worse), and hiding under a bridge (because that wide open space seems really safe considering that Bigfoot is an animal, and probably doesn't have an acute sense of smell or anything.)

Found Footage familiarity ensues.

Where Eduardo Sanchez's Blair With Project conjured up all sorts of fear and terror (despite its almost nonexistent amount of incident), Exists just kind of goes through the Found Footage motions, and doesn't come anywhere near that Blair Witch level of Horror. That's really a shame too, seeing as how Sanchez helped legitimize the whole Found Footage conceit to begin with.

As with most movies that don't quite work for us, it's the script that is the culprit here. It offers little in the way of anything new or different, and its more-than-familiar elements just don't work all that well. Scenes that involve people shooting blindly into trees mid-freakout, or saying "Hello? Mr.Sasquatch? I just want to be friends!" come off as silly and distracting. It all just feels haphazard, and worst of all, the movie isn't all that scary. Intense at times, but not scary.

Maybe it's the fact that the characters are all idiots, that we didn't feel any fear whatsoever for them surviving the situation they found themselves in. We HAVE to like (or at least identify with) the characters in a movie if we're supposed to feel afraid for them. There's just no two ways about it. If we don't give a shit about them, like in Exists, then it becomes a thing of us hoping that they all die in creative ways, and nothing more.

It's also a matter of Found Footage movies becoming increasingly predictable and silly. "Driving in the middle of the night on their way to a secluded cabin, five friends hit something on the road..." Right away we thought "Oh man, they hit a baby Sasquatch, and now Mommy's gonna be pissed!" And we were right. We're not wizards or anything, it was just painfully obvious.

Horror movies in general are often nonsensical, predictable beasts; that's just how it goes. If the average Horror movie offers a creepy atmosphere or some genuine scares though, their sillier aspects can be put aside to a large extent; in those cases, the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts, and an imperfect movie can end up being enjoyable. Scare us, gross us out, make us care... shit, make us cry... just do something to make us forget how stupid the set-up is, and how illogical and "asking for it" the characters are.

Found Footage movies though tend to take things to a whole different level of silliness and implausibility, and Exists is no different: At the point where one of the guys makes a break for it on a bike to go and get help for the group, we lost all hope that this movie was ever going to improve; we knew why he had a camera mounted to his bike helmet, but once he was racing along the trails at full speed, we absolutely knew that Sasquatch was going to pop out and knock him right off of it... and of course, he did. Maybe we are wizards after all.

Then again, maybe if he hadn't have been trying to use his cell phone while racing down the bumpy forest trail at break-neck speeds, he might have been able to steer himself to safety or something. Or maybe not. We digress.

To be fair, there were a few moments of genuine Horror in the movie, including a harrowing scene where the characters are hiding from Sasquatch in a basement, but the truly effective scenes were few and far between. We also have to say that the whole "camper scene" was pretty awesome as well, and even downright impressive.

The Sasquatch looked pretty good too, although it really just felt like a mad gorilla chasing people down.

And I know we say it every single time that we watch a Found Footage movie, but it bears repeating; we still don't buy into the fact that while stuck in the midst of a terrifying, life-threatening ordeal, that people would still be filming everything that is going on around them. Yes, the "footage" part of things is essential for a Found Footage movie to even exist (no pun intended), but that doesn't make it any less ridiculous, and more importantly, frustrating.

Maybe at this point were just really tired of the same old Found Footage dreck. As relatively inexpensive as these types of movies are to make though, they are probably not going to go away anytime soon. If that's the case, can someone at least make one with an intelligent script that doesn't retread the same exact ground every single time?

We'd really like that.

Had Exists been made 10 years ago -when Found Footage movies still felt fresh and promising, and had an element of surprise about them- it might have felt more effective. So many other Found Footage movies have come and go over the past few years though, that this one just feels like its going through the same all-too-familiar motions.

Rent it if you like Found Footage movies, or if you love all things Bigfoot, but just be aware that there's not much about this one that feels very fresh or scary. Then again, we're a bit jaded.


Exists is available now on VOD.

Dora Madison Burge and Denise Williamson are in this, both of whom had roles on the awesome NBC Show, Friday Night Lights. Texas Forever, ladies. Texas Forever.


  1. Yeah, that was some lame Found Footage movie. I sure was WANTING them to die painfully, just to offer me some level of entertainment. No, not the ladies, they were pretty and way more likable than those guys. I mean, seriously, a man in his 30's should be a bit more intelligent than shown. I can buy a 20 something with bad ideas but if you are a full grown up man, you should have learned to use more than 2 brain cells. (Exception would be behaviour towards women. This could be too tricky for a man at all.)

  2. We have been disagreeing lately on movies, you being a more lenient grader than I would have been, but we are as one, 'bro', with this stinker. Lord, they were an annoying group!
    Normally I am at least sympathetic to some pretty cast member; not this time. Mama Bigfoot's got a righteous cause - you go, girl. I was disappointed on how she handled the last one, the jerk who was responsible for the whole idiotic mess, hoping something memorably bloody would happen - nah. (What did happen to the poor uncle? Him I felt sorry for.). Like you I quickly figured out what, (who), they hit and I'm no Sherlock Holmes when it comes to things like this. Also, I generally dislike lots of blood and gore but this movie could have used more of that. In 'Willow Creek', while it took half the movie for something to happen, when it did, you had a had a darn good scary flick. In this one; totally agree with your grade. Mrs Bigfoot should have buried this footage.

  3. If you havent seen Frankenstein a much better found footage.bye

  4. Um, IDK, I disagree with everything you said, basically.
    I'll agree that the kids were assholes, except for the one guy who was filming, but that is typical for this type of movie. I'll also agree that the first half of the movie was basically just a Bunch of unnerving sounds outside a cabin. BUT, once the guy goes out on his bike and is getting chased, that was some crazy shit.
    Once the uncle arrives, that last last 15-20 minutes or so, it really was scary to watch.
    The way the bodies were laid out. And that final scene, where you see the guys terrified face, and the Bigfoot behind him, deciding whether or not to let him go(which I think was to warn others to NEVER come back there)

    OH, one more thing. I keep hearing this same thing over and over and over, about how a regular person would have stopped filming, and blah blah blah. Well that is crap, becuase obvious;y these people in these movies are not normal. They are obsessive with filming. Also many of the cameras were go-pros and were simply just filming regardless of whether the person was even aware of it anymore or not. Edwardo actually said in an interview before this movie went out on the festival circuit, about how the FF genre is waning due to people not beleiving that anybody would continue to film, and he gave the same answer that I have always held true. There are simply people out there that were born filmmakers. These are the kind of people that can't enjoy reality unless its through a lens. These are the people that go into war zones and film while real life bullets are wizing last their heads. You are telling me that they wouldn't film a Bigfoot if given the chance!?!? Come on man, you know I am right here.