Whenever I sit down to watch a found footage movie, I admit, I go in with a bad taste already in my mouth. Since the seminal “Blair Witch Project” dropped in 1999 – which grossed an insane amount of money on a miniscule budget – found footage movies have become the next cliché in the horror genre, like the slasher films that polluted the 80s and early 90s. With that said, does director Eduardo Sánchez bring anything special or innovative to delineate “Exists” from all the other crappy found footage movies that have been released since “The Blair Witch Project”? The knee-jerk-Twitter-answer is #NO. “Exists” is filled with horror movie banality from the start: a group of five college-aged kids drive to a cabin in the woods for a weekend getaway where they plan to drink copious amounts of alcohol, have unprotected sexual relations and go for a nudie dip in a toxic lake. Yawn, right? But wait! Then things start to happen…
Sánchez actually directed the first “Blair Witch Project,” so his direction and editing on “Exists” is similarly very tight, and once Sánchez introduces his monster of choice, Sasquatch (I can feel your eyes roll), the atmosphere in “Exists” turns shockingly foreboding. Sánchez smartly conceals his attacking beast from the viewer, instead, he bombards us with aggressive snarling and offscreen trickery.
Sánchez also makes the most of his cabin set, using it to maximum potential for Sasquatch’s destructive attacks. As the roof caves in on the cabin, “Exists” grows more and more claustrophobic. We know it’s only a matter of time before drastic measures will be taken by the college kids if they hope to survive. Staying true to horror tradition, each college kid meets his or her doom, but “Exists” isn’t a gory film. This might bum out hardcore genre fans, those of whom require their screens to be drenched with blood and guts, but true horror is about creating an air of anxiety and suspense. “Exists” does this, and does it well. And if memory serves, “The Blair Witch Project” had very little gore too. Props to Sánchez for staying true to his roots.
When it comes to its more human characters, “Exists” doesn’t even bother building them into anything more than Sasquatch food. I mean, the main star of this show is Sasquatch and the cameras being used to film said creature. I still haven’t figured it out, it could be the techno era we live in, where everyone has a camera on their phone and is obsessed with documenting their lives, but I found myself mourning the loss of a cracked GoPro over an actual character death. Perhaps I’m just a functioning sociopath with a pension for high end electronics. Who knows? Anyway, is “Exists” a great horror movie? Nah. Is it a decent found footage movie to watch at 3 am after a night of drinking or smoking the reefer? Roar!
Final Say: Pabst Blue Ribbon!
About Bryan Kish
Bryan Kish writes reviews and articles for NID Magazine.