Hunting Grounds Movie Review
Written by John Colianni
Released by Uncork'd Entertainment
Written and directed by John Portanove
2017, 92 minutes, Not Rated
Released on VOD on February 7th, 2017
Bill Oberst Jr. as Bauman
Jason Vail as Roger Crew
Miles Joris-Peyrafitte as Michael Crew
D'Angelo Midili as Will Marx
Hopefully we can all agree that urban legends are a fun. Even the frightening ones are captivating enough to get pulled into their lore. A haunted forest, an abandoned asylum, George Washington's famous bathtub in West Virginia. They have this story to tell that makes different areas around the world more interesting and allow natives and visitors become immersed in a culture that isn't going to a restaurant or a museum. One such urban legend in America is Bigfoot, an elusive, hairy humanoid creature that is said to inhabit the forests of the Pacific Northwest. Even though there have supposedly been numerous sightings of this creature, none have been able to photograph or film it. Just like Scotland's Loch Ness Monster, documentaries and films have been released to shed more light on where it came from and its living habits. As for a subject for horror, writer and director John Portanova does the myth a huge disservice with Hunting Grounds.
Father, Roger and son, Michael have fallen on hard times after a family tragedy and the loss of their home. With nowhere else to go, both gather their belongings and move to an isolated family cabin, deep in the woods. As Michael tries to repair his strained relationship with his father, things are put on hold as his uncle and his father's friend arrive for a weekend of drinking and hunting. As the men head out into the woods, little do they know that a tribe of Sasquatch are waiting to defend their home from trespassers.
I have no idea why this movie has Bigfoot in it. I regrettably watched Hunting Grounds twice, thinking that I must have missed something my first time around. There isn't any background given to Bigfoot or its history or motives for being in the area. That seems to undermine the entirety of the film that seems to be focusing a battle between the men and the creatures in the woods. What is delivered to moviegoers is a cast of characters that are not believable and their screen time leaves no lasting impact. As the men head out into the woods, they finally encounter Bigfoot which leads the father to get abducted by the creature. When the others retreat back to the cabin, Roger's friend Sergio goes crazy and stabs Michael's uncle, Will. After that commotion is over, Bill Oberst Jr.'s character, who we haven't seen since the beginning of the film, shows up again. This train wreck of a plot concludes as Roger reappears and the tribe of creatures attacks the cabin and fail. The movie literally ends with Bigfoot giving a bro nod to Michael for not shooting him as he and Roger escape in their car, never to return to the cabin. These are only a few of the cringe-worthy scenes that Hunting Grounds has to offer.
The idea of a bipedal monster that walks the woods of the Northwesters United States sounds unbelievably scary and unimaginable. Thus is the basis of how urban legends come to be. The story that John Portanova tells is painfully incoherent and does little to incorporate the myth that has been shared throughout the years. Any villain could have fit this mold because there is no backstory to the lore given. It seems that Bigfoot was only added to this for name recognition. The real tragedy is why Bill Oberst Jr. is even in this film. His cameo does nothing but add a popular face among actors that are forgotten long before Bigfoot's heart-wrenching bro nod. If you're craving for a Sasquatch fix, I suggest checking out some blurry YouTube videos.