The Bigfoot Tapes Movie Review
Written by Becky Roberts
DVD released by Signature Entertainment
Written and directed by Stephon Stewart
2013, 101 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
DVD released on 6th May 2013
Stephon Stewart as Stephon Lancaster
Davee Youngblood as Davee Lancaster
Shy Pilgreen as Shy Driskell
On 13th May 2009 an emergency services call was made by a local of Siskiyou County, California claiming Bigfoot had ripped apart his dog in his back garden. The Bigfoot Tapes exhibits the footage from three Americans’ expedition to find the legendary beast three years later.
Stephon and his brother Davee and Davee’s girlfriend go on a spontaneous trip to the infamous Bigfoot County, looking to make history by capturing the first ever recording of a sighting. After hunting down religious aficionado Travis, the local who’d made the poignant emergency call, and persuading him to take them to the woodland spot in the mountains where Bigfoot supposedly resides, the hopeful trio begin their quest. But when they lose Travis, start hearing unexplained noises and question their tree-taping navigation strategy, it appears that Siskiyou County contains beings more monstrous than the folklore they came for.
In terms of narrative and style, this may be the biggest Blair Witch copycat yet. A group of nobody wannabe filmmakers heads out to uncover and prove historic mythology for a documentary, interviewing locals and delving deep into unknown territory. Dusk dawns and out comes the once-effective hackneyed night vision effect. But the camerawork is, for the most part, shake-free and we don’t get thrown around a car after a spotty-faced teen talks into the camera to introduce his so-called ‘groundbreaking movie’. Out of all those budding filmmakers looking for their big break, thankfully we have someone who has a steady hand and knows the value in not inflicting an unnecessary headache on his audience.
Much to my despair, the bearable camera framing didn’t last long enough to savour and was not prominent enough to surpass or rescue what was to follow. Shaking upturned tents, strange grumbles, intermittent gunshots and hysterical screams comprise the first hour, and with only twenty minutes left, all that is startling is the appearance of floating red eyes against the eerie pitch-black backdrop. It’s far from aesthetically imaginative and the frustrating noisiness of the group’s hysteria replaces any authentic scares. The proven value of low budget is ignored and uncharted, and the familiar plea to turn off the camera simply ticks another box on the cliché list.
Though Stephon and Davee share an odd but beguiling couple of minutes of meaningful emotion in their state of helplessness, the ensemble is largely dull and uninteresting, pitifully dreaming of whisky and tequila shots as respite after one day of dragging themselves through the woods. Shy is hardly an advert for the modern horror woman, falling just short of pathetic, and it increasingly becomes a wonder why she’s even there in the first place. The plot ramps up in the last 10 minutes with a mildly eyebrow-raising change of direction, but its sudden harsh brutality appears misplaced and its sharp tonal shift is left too late to raise the grade.
Disappointingly, what sets itself up to be a Troll Hunter meets The Blair Witch Project found-footage doc, plays out rather empty and monotonous situation drenched in bland, wearisome effects. In a still very popularised but exhausted subgenre, group efforts like Stewart’s are unwarranted and best left on the tapes.
Video, Audio and Special Features:
Video, audio and special features will not be graded as this was a screener.