With Exists, Eduardo Sánchez dully bum-rushes his way into the woods to draw from the well of inspiration that catalyzed the success of The Blair Witch Project. Though the film abides by the dictates of the found-footage paradigm, its refusal to mince words, as emblematized by its title, is initially refreshing, as it practically treats Bigfoot as a known quantity. Bumblefucking their way to a cabin in the backwoods of east Texas to sleuth for a not-so-elusive Sasquatch, the characters tiresomely flirt with that distinctly moth-eaten, Kevin Williamsonian brand of self-consciousness that marks them as dead meat. On walking through the woods in the dead of night, Todd (Roger Edwards) groaningly exclaims, “Black people don’t do this shit!” That’s some five minutes into the film, and already the opening title card’s sense of portent (“Experts agree the creatures are only violent if provoked”) has been predictably realized. Sánchez gets a few jolting angles on Bigfoot’s swift range of motion and herculean rage, which eerily gooses the characters into a number of tight corners, but in the wake of Bobcat Goldthwait’s Willow Creek, a modest scare machine that was quite canny at peeling back the fraudulent layers of masculine mythmaking, Exists’s metaphorical ambitions are as under-realized as its story-circumscribing use of found footage. The story’s dumbasses, unlike the sea of would-be corpses that litter so many ’80s-era slashathons, may pause to weep for their dearly departed, and their spasms of grief may be tied in the end to the injustice against Sasquatch, but as a reflection on trans-species empathy, this is impatiently thin gruel.
- 80 min
- Eduardo Sánchez
- Jamie Nash
- Chris Osborn, Samuel Davis, Roger Edwards, Denise Williamson, Dora Madison Burge, Brian Steele
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