Directed By: Eduardo Sanchez
Starring: Samuel Davis, Dora Madison Burge, Roger Edwards
Tag line: "The legend is real. So is the terror"
Trivia: This movie had its world premiere on March 7, 2014 at the South by Southwest Film Festival
2014’s Exists marked Eduardo Sanchez’s return to found footage, a subgenre he himself pushed to the forefront 15 years earlier with the hugely popular The Blair Witch Project (which he co-directed with Daniel Myrick). More than this, though, the movie does something very few films before it were able to do: it makes you fear the Bigfoot monster.
Brothers Brian (Chris Osborn) and Matt (Samuel Davis), along with their buddy Todd (Roger Edwards) and girlfriends Dora (Dora Madison Burge) and Elizabeth (Denise Williamson), head into the forests of East Texas for some rest and relaxation. But Brian has another reason for making this particular trip: he hopes to capture footage of the legendary Bigfoot, which, according to reports, has been spotted numerous times in the surrounding woods. Staying at a cabin that belongs to their uncle (who, as the result of a terrifying experience, hasn’t been back there in over 8 years), Brian sets up dozens of cameras in the area, then waits for the infamous monster to make an appearance. As it turns out, he doesn’t have to wait long; Bigfoot shows up the very first night. Unfortunately, he’s not in a good mood, and seems intent on taking his frustrations out on the five friends. The question is: “Why”?
As he did with Blair Witch, Sanchez takes full advantage of the found footage format (which, when used properly, can still generate some excitement). Employing everything from hidden cameras to “Helmet Cams”, he ensures that we see everything we need to see (the scene where Brian is frantically riding his bike through the woods in search of a cell phone signal is incredibly tense). But where Exists truly sets itself apart is in the way it utilizes the Bigfoot monster. Early on in the film, we catch glimpses of the creature, shadowy silhouettes that dart across the screen and quickly disappear. Of course, with so many cameras trained on the cabin and the nearby woods, it isn’t long before we see much more of the monster, and it’s pretty damn frightening. While some Creature Features benefit from the “less is better” approach, showing their monster sporadically (or hardly at all), Exists often puts the big guy front and center, and thanks to the combined efforts of the make-up and effects departments, as well as actor Brian Steele (who portrays the celebrated Sasquatch), Bigfoot has never looked so menacing.
Prior to this movie, the best screen depiction of Bigfoot I’d seen was in the ‘80s comedy / family film Harry and the Hendersons. In Exists, we get a version of the creature that looks every bit as good, only this time, he’ll scare the living hell out of you.