Exists: Movie Review
Cast: Samuel Davis, Roger Edwards, Brian Steele, Dora Burge, Denise Williamson
Director: Eduardo Sanchez
It's back into the woods once more for the director of The Blair Witch Project who made such a killing with the movie back in 1999 and changed the found footage horror genre forever.
This time around, a group of friends head into a remote wood in Texas to party at an uncle's cabin, armed with a bazillion cameras, beers and hormones. On the way to the venue, the group hits something on the road - and dismissing it as a deer, they continue to head to the cabin.
But, later that night, a wailing starts in the woods - and soon they're being hunted by a Sasquatch...
Exists is exactly what you'd expect from the found footage genre.
There's an overload of shoe-horning in of cameras (everyone's always recording these days) and a series of horror tropes and conventions which are present from beginning to end. Sure, there's the obligatory shots of nondescript good-looking people getting passionate (thanks to one of their group perving on them and taping it all) and granted the group chooses to go further into the woods "for a short-cut" when they're being chased (cue eye-rolls of incredulity), but despite a bumpy 30 minutes that does little to endear you to the group, Exists soon proves to be remarkably solid.
With a fearsomely evocative sound-scape that manages to ramp up some of the tension in the cabin in the woods, Exists starts to come into its own as the Sasquatch begins to attack after its provocation.
Early onslaughts are confined to the blurred furry beast being glimpsed, running through the woods as one of the group tries to escape on a bike or from views of those hiding within the cabin, but Sanchez and the script don't shy away from revealing the beast in its glory and for subverting the genre by having the creature attack in the full light of day. There's a feral ferocity and animal logic to the Sasquatch which is commendable, even if its final interaction ends up being somewhat out of character.
Mind you, it's not to say that some of the more truly stupid moments don't detract from the film - a gung-ho firing of a gun with limited ammo by one character amed up on machismo being the true high of dumb behaviour - but the clever seeding of the cameras actually pays off with multiple angles in a climactic showdown revealing more than these usually would. Other scenes aren't as lucky though with darkness and muffled moments muddying the tension and proving frustrating rather than frightening as you struggle to work out exactly what - if anything - is going on.
All that said, if you go down to the woods today for Exists, you may actually get a bit of a cinematic surprise.