Exists Movie Review
Written by Richelle Charkot
DVD released by Lionsgate
Directed by Eduardo Sanchez
Written by Jamie Nash
2014, 86 minutes, Rated R
Released in theaters on October 24th, 2014
Dora Madison Burge as Dora
Brian Steele as Sasquatch
Denise Williamson as Elizabeth
Samuel Davis as Matt
Roger Edwards as Todd
Chris Osborn as Brian
Although clichés are apparent in any genre of film, horror fans especially have to endure some of the most painstakingly obvious chestnuts again and again. Exists goes for a double whammy by being 1) a found footage film, and 2) about five twenty-somethings being stuck in the middle of the woods. These two archetypes are fraught with some of the most groan worthy moments in modern film because they have been done to death. Although it does contain an antagonist which is a Sasquatch, an opponent that is not often seen in horror, that one dim light of ingenuity fades out completely because the rest of Exists is comprised of staggeringly lazy writing that is bringing nothing new at all to the genre.
A group of friends go into the woods to spend the weekend boozing and enjoying their time at their friend's uncle's cabin. On the drive up to their location, they hit an animal but are unable to find a dead or wounded carcass in spite of the loud coos and growls that they can hear rustling in the surrounding woods. Once they reach the cabin, they find that it is unlocked and dilapidated, so they decide to spend the evening in the car instead. After some unsettling groans in the forest that cause the crew to move back into the cabin for the remainder of their stay, they slowly become victims to a Sasquatch that is territorial and upset.
Playing with genre clichés can make for an inventive and witty film that almost acts like an inside joke between the audience and the filmmaker. How many times have you laughed out loud when a character has said something to the effect of, "Billy, this isn't funny!" when wandering around a deserted building? These sly nods can enhance a film when they are used effectively, but with that being said, using a set of tired writing techniques such as what the entire plot of Exists is, can completely disengage a viewer from the story. It makes for nothing but easy predictability and a betrayal to the audience because there is nothing exhilarating about a poorly written script that is ripping off almost verbatim every other cabin-in-the-woods themed predecessor.
Although the Sasquatch element to the story seems absurd to begin with, it could have easily been effective if it was done properly. A large amount of the excitement in horror or thrillers derives from not knowing who or what the shadowy murderer is, but Exists opts to reveal the frankly silly looking cryptid right from the beginning. If there was any sort of air of mystery about what was attacking the five twenty-year-olds, there could feasibly be a rise in intensity that would have made the film (at the very least) not regrettable. As is, this film is a prime example of "it's been done" and is an enormous eye-roll inducer for anyone who has seen more than one cabin-standard.
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