To say that, since The Blair Witch Project, putting scared to death young folks in leaf-free woods has become popular is a bit of an understatement. Yet it is always with a certain curiosity that one enters into a handheld horror or found footage feature. There are downers Grave Encounters 2, The Devil Inside, Apollo 18 but there are also some undeniable highs too. So it was with a bit of hope that you could meet this latest dose of Cryptozoology motivated found footage horror. Initially this hope is well placed, not so much as things progress.
There is undeniable proof that mythical creatures (like Bigfoot, like the Loch Ness Monster, like the Chupacabra) are ripe for mockumentary/found footage horror riffs. This evidence is in André Øvredal’s Troll Hunter, a film that took real creature mythos and culture and turned it into a thunderously entertaining Found Footage romp. The Bigfoot Tapes (also called Bigfoot County) actually starts in a similar manner, with a nice phone call opening and a steady start that leaves the audience thinking that the film could be onto delivering. The creepy interview with locals of Siskiyou County recalls Blair Witch and the setting is perfect. Yet as soon as we meet religious fanatic Travis (Sam Ayers) and enter the woods it is crunch time.
It is here that the film slowly but assuredly falls into the dreary depths of stereotype, desperation and convolution. There is a nicely effective atmosphere in the woods, leading to a jolt shock of a first appearance by the central mythical beast but it is everything that follows this that pulls the film into tedium. As nice as it is to see the few monster shots delivered without the aid of CGI (which was expected), the film fails to keep hold of the point. The whole pull factor was seeing a film about the mythical beast Bigfoot, which drew audiences in. This film draws us in, to a certain extent, only to flip us off with terrible payoffs, endings and in all honesty completely the opposite to that which is wanted.
The film goes from monster hunt to hillbilly horror and in doing so sets its feet across well-trodden movie territory. As soon as the plot takes its hick turn you foresee everything that comes (well even before that the film was hardly original) and none of it is scary or enjoyable. If the film had have delivered scares and atmosphere it would have made up for the unaccomplished script, yet that script is what the film seems to relish (mistakenly).
From the incomprehensibly excessive foul language, to the darkness-strewn confusion and completely unnecessary and stereotypical homosexual rape, the film ticks off the cliché’s by the minute. The acting gets increasingly worse too and the direction becomes more about what we don’t want than what we do. Top this off with a “there you are finish” that delivers a sighting more funny than scary and you have a film that feels initially fun but withdrawn from its subject. A missed opportunity.