Exists Movie Review
Written by Becky Roberts
DVD released by Entertainment One
Directed by Eduardo Sanchez
Written by Jamie Nash
2015, 81 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
DVD released on 6th April 2015
Samuel Davis as Matt
Roger Edwards as Todd
Dora Madison Burge as Dora
Chris Osborn as Brian
Denise Williamson as Elizabeth
In 1999, Eduardo Sánchez (and fellow filmmaker Daniel Myrick) helped spawn the ‘found footage’ subgenre with (yes, you guessed it) The Blair Witch Project – you don’t need me to tell you what a huge success and influence it was in the industry. Fifteen years and a handful of films later, he has another similarly-pitched ‘woods’ movie to offer: Exists. Exciting? Sure.
The plot is less so: Five friends go to a remote cabin deep in the neck of the woods (where else), only to find themselves in the territory of a violent creature they believe to be mythical ape-man Bigfoot. Their handheld camera documents their experience and what’s recorded graces our screens for 81 minutes.
We've heard it all before. In the last decade the horror genre has been filled to the rafters – exhausted, really – with found-footage-esque features churned out in their hundreds. You can see why: they’re accessible, relatively cheap to make and a window of opportunity to prospective filmmakers. But while some are good, lots aren’t. The concept’s future seems pretty bleak, so it’s understandably difficult coming into this film with high expectations.
But skeptics (like me) should park their presumptions, for Exists turns out to be a rather pleasant surprise: well executed, suspenseful and largely able to sidestep the annoying traits that have become part and parcel of found-footage – over doing it with the shaky cam being one of them, dodgy acting and hammy script another.
Instead, performances are generally commendable and the delivery is fairly water tight – sometimes these films really do work best to just 80-odd minutes. There are surprises along the way and the gradual unveil of the ‘monster’ keeps the interest piqued.
Although keeping the mystery of not seeing the 'monster' in question has its worth in the found-footage films (The Blair Witch, again, probably one of the finest examples), it's nice to see one that doesn't cop out of a big reveal and, in this case, decent SFX. We get more than a footprint, an eerie cry in the middle of the night and a rustling of leaves... in the end, anyway. The final scene is worth the wait.
Exists has its downfalls: Sanchez does a fine job having his teens killed, but when it comes to character development, there's sweet FA. It's almost impossible to root for the cardboard cut-outs and, in that sense, brings it close to being thrown in the 'do not watch' pile.
Still, this Bigfoot horror does a lot right, and certainly leaves a bigger footprint than some of its peers.