Eduardo Sánchez, 2014, USA
‘Exists’ is a good monster-movie romp but a lousy drama. You will spend a lot of time thinking of how stupid the lead characters are. And it’s not the same as the flawed thinking that marks realistic, inexperienced people - the kind that colours in the characters of ‘It Follows’ for instance - but the kind of character behaviour that makes you aware of mediocre writing. So you have the hysterical girl that won’t stop crying and potentially giving their position away (which I can go with because as annoying as this may be, people will do that under extreme duress, etc) but then there’s the guy coming out of hiding just to blast away all his ammo and trying to confront the Sasquatch with challenges I guess he would’ve heard from sports programmes and action movies. Good going, stupid, you’ll be thinking. Yes, pretty soon they all stand out as annoying movie types. So no, it won’t be challenging ‘Willow Creek’ as a definitive Bigfoot film. Or a found-footage film.
Director Eduardo Sánchez was one half of the team that made ‘The Blair Witch Project’, but ‘Exists’ doesn’t solve the major problems of the hand-held-camera genre the former instigated: why keep filming? Who’s editing this afterwards for maximum drama? Etc. To justify all the covering shots (like the creepy exterior one of the Sasquatch coming up the cabin in shadow), we begin with one guy (hey, you won’t remember the names of these characters) having a considerable stash of cameras: I guess we are to take for granted that he could afford all this and that he would set it all up without any trouble or comment. (And then he never checks them?) Although this reaps rewards with a helmet-cam when the beast is running after a speeding bicycle (shades of Sánchez’s funny ‘A Ride in the Park’ entry in ‘V/H/S/2’) or a vision of the Sasquatch jumping onto the camper van, at other times it will just make things incomprehensible. Again, the intimacy of subjectivity forfeits the drama of a well-placed shot. This has none of the care or ambiguity exhibited in his ‘Lovely Molly’.
On the plus side, it wastes little time with getting on with things: these privileged idiots knock down something that is probably just an animal and won’t let that get in the way of having a good time to show on social media. And then they get attacked, the creature besieging them and then retreating, tormenting them and showing evidence of intelligence in its assaults. And, the film does have a great Sasquatch and that makes up for so much if you are a monster fan. Oh, it's an excellent Sasquatch.Brian Steele wears the suit designed by Mike Elizalde with sound design and grunts and roars by Kevin Hill and Matt Davies. It’s impressive. At first, the creature is seen in shadow, then long-shot, then medium shot, then in fragments like an eye or a foot… all implying that this monster suit is going to be kept at arms’ length to keep up credibility. But this isn’t the case. There is a good cellar attack scene and visions like the Sasquatch keeping pace with the bicycle or coming out of the smoke and the final close-up justify this is a creature feature.