Studio: XLrator Media
Director: Corey Grant
Writer: Brian P. Kelsey, Bryan O’Cain
Producer: Chevez Frazier, Corey Grant, Chris Beal
Stars: Drew Rausch, Rich McDonald, Ashley Wood, Noah Weisberg, Frank Ashmore
A film crew investigates one man’s claim of possessing a Sasquatch carcass, and together they uncover possible evidence of the creature.
One could make an argument that we have Bigfoot to credit/blame for the creation of the “found footage” sub-genre. Not since the Zapruder Film had ten seconds of shaky amateur footage birthed such an everlasting controversy. But so it was in 1967 that Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin gave the world an image of Bigfoot in stride that shapes all modern day impressions of what a Sasquatch might look like. With “Bigfoot: The Lost Coast Tapes,” director Corey Grant decides to dispense with ethereal witches and paranormal ghosts and take “found footage” back to these more tangible real world roots.
When Northern California mountain man Carl Drybeck claims he has a carcass that can prove Bigfoot’s existence, television host Sean Reynolds takes out $75,000 in cash for exclusive access to the unveiling. Sean believes he will be debunking a hoax. Enlisting his buddy Darryl as the camera operator and his ex-girlfriend Robyn as producer, Sean adds rookie Kevin to the team and heads to the wilds of Northern California’s Lost Coast.
“Bigfoot: The Lost Coast Tapes” follows the usual “rules” of “found footage” horror. The documentary crew is established with sympathetic personalities. A grizzled wilderness veteran stares coldly while delivering unheeded warnings. Skepticism evolves into dread. And a curveball climax suitably offsets the predictability. But while “Lost Coast” maintains intrigue despite riding on two wheels around a few bends, that intrigue does not translate into authentic terror.
Bigfoot does not make for the best movie monster. If Sasquatch does exist, it certainly does its best to stay out of everyone’s way and there has never been a credible report of a Bigfoot rampage, let alone human fatality. “Lost Coast” ups the pacifism ante by suggesting that Bigfoot is actually protective of the human species, further depleting any perceived menace from the legendary beast. Already non-threatening, the elusive creature is then barely visible as a fleeting shadow throughout the film, which is a usually reliable scare tactic that is sorely misused here. Darkness and the unknown invoke fear when the imagination runs wild with horrific possibilities. Except that courtesy of the previously mentioned Patterson-Gimlin Film, most people already have a mental image of Bigfoot, so the mind never has a reason to terrify itself. Not seeing so much as a blurry whoosh of fur elicits more frustration than trepidation.
The cast of characters is one of the better assemblies in a “found footage” film, and they do their best to make up for fear deficiencies with personality. Kevin, a fumbling boom operator who resembles Andy Samberg in both appearance and demeanor, is the foil for many of the plentiful comic moments, most of which are intentional. “Lost Coast” could have simply started with Kevin on the production team, but he is instead introduced with a backstory explaining his stumbling nature as a replacement crewmember. It is a welcome extra ounce of character development that other movies might not bother with.
As the host, Sean has a history of mental instability, which goes a long way towards explaining why he is paying over $100,000 of his own money to basically produce an episode of “Mythbusters.” This facet of Sean fails to completely add up. He believes he is exposing a hoax, but paying $75,000 to the man at the center of the supposed fraud is a boatload of money to front for the opportunity. Surely there are hucksters with lower rates. He later dismisses a finger in a jar as belonging to an orangutan, yet it is the tipping point compelling him to complete his journey for the Sasquatch carcass. Sean seems to be either believer or skeptic whenever the script requires him to be one or the other. Although his motivations are erratically defined, he is still believable as a reality television host, which is a major compliment when weighed against actors in similar roles in similar films.
“Lost Coast” is at least aware of some of its other plot holes, though not much is done to address them. At the same moment the audience realizes the impracticality of two hunters lugging an enormous Sasquatch body through wooded terrain to stash it in a seaside cave, Darryl questions Drybeck about the same thing. No answer is given, but there is some consolation that the writers acknowledged there was a problem. Perfectly framed claw marks and fur conveniently left behind as evidence are given a similar nod when the crew dismisses such impeccably placed boons as part of the supposed hoax. The cast is just as dismissive as the audience when it comes to accepting certain onscreen antics, although neither group receives an explanation. That is more effort than an ad-libbed “found footage” movie would fiddle with to explain its weaknesses, even if it does not do much to redeem entertainment value.
With a few such mounting inconsistencies, “Lost Coast” dives head first into a pool of the unexplained by ending on a pretty incredible twist. However, just as the film’s intrigue does not fuel suspense, the unexpected twist does not equal satisfaction, either. The filmmakers are still to be credited for making an original effort. They followed the “found footage” formula for the framework, and then tried turning things on their ear. It just did not work, and technical execution can only take a movie part of the distance. While it is fine to leave a conclusion vague enough that is must be puzzled over, a direction should still be provided. “Lost Coast” seems more interested in circling around various ideas without fully knowing what to do with them. Bigfoot in practice is simply not as frightening as it is in theory. Maybe that is why “Lost Coast” elects to run with a different menace at the end. Except by that point, any momentum gained was lost in the doldrums of an underexposed threat and largely unsatisfying payoffs.
Review Score: 60