DVD REVIEW: EXISTS / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: EDUARDO SANCHEZ / SCREENPLAY: JAMIE NASH / STARRING: SAMUEL DAVIS, DORA MADISON BURGE, ROGER EDWARDS, BRIAN STEELE / RELEASE DATE: APRIL 6TH
Revisiting old cinematic ground is an extremely risky undertaking. Past glories may prove impossible to recreate resulting in a film that pales in comparison with previous work. When the most significant entry in your filmography happens to be the genre defining Blair Witch Project, any new woods-based found footage horror is always going to suffer harsh comparison, but with Exists writer and director Eduardo Sanchez has almost succeeded. Almost, but not quite.
After setting out for a fun weekend filming stunts for YouTube while staying at a family member’s isolated cabin, things begin to go very wrong indeed for a group of friends when they strike an unidentified childlike creature with their car and incur the wrath of a thoroughly unimpressed parent Bigfoot.
That’s about all you really need to know, except to say that Exists is for the most part pretty good fun. There is a welcome sense of nostalgia to proceedings as Sanchez channels classic tropes from films such as King Kong and Frankenstein, giving the malevolent monster a relatable motive and implying the possibility of a thoughtful personality hidden somewhere beneath the angry, hairy exterior. The Bigfoot scenes are very well conceived, with extremely convincing effects and the fear emanating from the deeply annoying teens tangible.
Without doubt the best thing about Exists is that the action kicks off right from the opening scenes and keeps going at a frantic pace right through to the end. There are the usual “is there something there?” and “did he see us?” moments that populate these films but they prove not to be too annoying and quieter moments are kept to a minimum, restricting the times when the audience could question any of the on-screen action to the film's detriment.
Where Exists does sadly, and perhaps surprisingly, fall down is in the found footage concept. The set-up of filming everything to post on social media is fine, and even when they suspect there might be something hiding in the woods, keeping the camera rolling is justifiable. When events do become a little more bloody and boisterous, though, the old complaint of “just put the camera down!” comes to the fore and there are even some occasional time-lapse external shots that could be from an entirely different cabin in the woods film altogether. Simply put, it just doesn’t quite hold together.
It is notable that Exists shares little with 2014’s surprisingly tense found footage release Willow Creek other than in the substantially endowed paws of the antagonist. Where Bobcat Goldthwait developed a foreboding, tightly suffocating atmosphere, Sanchez has virtually created a chase movie, with the terminal teens pursued from one set piece to the next. When approached with fairly low expectations, Exists delivers a fun 90 minutes that is likely best enjoyed as a post-pub viewing experience on a Friday evening. Just don’t expect to remember too much of it by Saturday morning.
Special Features: None
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