Wednesday, October 3, 2012

[Review] Bigfoot: The Lost Coast Tapes

Somewhere out in the secluded section of California's mountainous Lost Coast, a self-proclaimed Sasquatch Hunter claims to have the carcass of one such creature in his possession, and invites a television crew out to his property to document everything as definitive proof of their existence. The crew, however, doesn't believe a word of it, and sets out to make a documentary not about a Sasquatch, but about the anatomy of a hoax, and inevitably get much more than they bargained for.

Just as the slasher movie craze of the 1980's spawned countless titles that were merely made for the sake of following a trend, we now seem to be going through the same damn thing today with the Found Footage subgenre. It seems a new one is added to the DVD shelves almost on a daily basis, and considering what a truly creepy form of storytelling the Found Footage technique can be, it's a shame that all these films are being made for the wrong reasons.

For everything The Lost Coast Tapes does right, it unfortunately does an equal amount of wrong. The film looks well put together and polished, and most of the actors surprisingly held their ground rather well. While these are obviously positive qualities for a film to have, it doesn't quite work for Found Footage. Aren't these types of films supposed to be rough around the edges? Aren't the characters supposed have natural dialogue and mannerisms? Why make a Found Footage film in the first place if you don't plan on making it appear as one? It's quite obvious, then, that this approach was used as nothing more than a cash-grabbing gimmick, and that sure is disappointing.

It baffles me how these filmmakers keep forgetting how incredibly important it is to center their stories on likeable characters. It's one of the very basic rules of storytelling and really not a hard concept to grasp. The characters in The Lost Coast Tapes are a total disaster in every which way. The film crew's leader, Sean, is meant to carry the entire film on his shoulders, and yet managed to be one of the most obnoxious jerks ever put on screen. WHY WOULD WE WANT TO WATCH SOMEONE LIKE THAT FOR AN HOUR AND A HALF? How could this question not have crossed the filmmakers' minds?

The boom mic operator, Kevin, is an incredibly annoying comic relief that sticks out like a sore thumb, and producer Robin is nothing but a filler character — and a really dumb one at that. She does nothing but sit around with incense while she meditates and says incredibly dumb things about the energy surrounding the property. What real purpose did she have in the story, other than giving us a really cheap way to explain that something is wrong? The worst part, though, is that she does all of this in very inappropriate attire for the setting. Did she not realize that hunting for Bigfoot at a cabin in the middle of the Lost Coast meant she probably shouldn't be wearing her Sex and the Slutty City outfit?

There are moments where creepiness stirs and tension mounts...and then it completely falls flat. We're never given enough to feel scared or all that interested, and none if it feels believable in the slightest. While successful films like The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity used the settings and situations to tell the story realistically without force, The Lost Coast Tapes does just the opposite. Everything here seems premeditated and certainly unrealistic. When the curmudgeonly old Sasquatch Hunter originally meets the crew, it's at an undisclosed location in the middle of the woods and only agrees to take them to his property after putting hoods over their heads and taking away their cell phones, which they seem totally okay with. Does this really sound like something that would happen in reality?

The Lost Coast Tapes presents a very unique and interesting idea, yet unfortunately takes an unnecessary filmmaking approach and gets bogged down with the subgenre's cliches, instead of benefiting from it. While it does manage to get some things right and it's certainly not an unwatchable film, the overall experience is cheap and bland with characters and situations that are merely there to fill space and time and have no real purpose. There's really not much to see here.


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