Lionsgate // 2012 // 82 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard (Retired) // January 4th, 2013
They Do Exist!
Intrigued by a recorded 911 call he came across on the internet that apparently detailed a violent encounter with Bigfoot, a documentary filmmaker named Stephon Lancaster (Stephon Stewart) set out to find the truth. Aided by his brother (Davee Youngblood) and his girlfriend (Shy Pilgreen), Stephon was able to quickly track down the person behind the call, who reluctantly agreed to help them in their search. That was the last time anyone saw Stephon or his friends...until now. Thanks to the discovery of Stephon's video camera, the truth about their fates can finally be revealed.
Regardless of whether you believe the novelty has started to wear off or not, the found footage genre is a great leveler for filmmakers. This particular approach to filmmaking means that, for the most part, classy cinematography and big special effects are largely irrelevant, meaning that a relatively big-budget production, such as Cloverfield is no more or less effective than a film costing peanuts, such as Paranormal Activity.
A common problem, however, with this style of filmmaking is that the end result often turns out to be one big tease with no payoff, a trend Bigfoot County sadly follows.
Consider this a mild spoiler, but despite all the signs to the contrary, Bigfoot County is not really a film about Bigfoot at all. In many ways, the first 40 minutes of the film mirror The Blair Witch Project, with locals being interviewed about the local legend, before internal bickering between our central trio threatens to derail their entire mission. I'm sure the intention was to show some real-life emotions coming through, as the endless trudging through dense forest begins to take its toll, but honestly, I'd sooner just have some Bigfoot action. That is, after all, what the filmmakers were selling us. Alas, as the film enters its darker, yet no more entertaining, second half, it becomes apparent that Bigfoot is the last thing on writer/director/star Stephon Stewart's mind. So what is on his mind you ask? Rednecks. Dirty, brown-teeth sporting, tobacco-chewing, ass-raping rednecks.
Even putting aside one's expectations of what we might see in a film called Bigfoot County, this is still a poor film. Comparisons to The Blair Witch Project are hard to ignore, as even the final moments are eerily similar. Perhaps a better cast and script would have produced a more interesting picture, but while the cast is decent at best, they don't ever really draw you in. Coupled with a script that contains far too much forced dialogue, we are left with a film that -- in its desperation to create something believable -- fails to even once create the illusion these events really happened, which is surely one of the cornerstones of the found footage genre.
It must be stressed that Stewart's direction is far more assured than his writing. There are a couple of occasions where he works hard to build up a suitably tense atmosphere by playing on the fear of the unknown that work very well. With the right writing partner -- or a stronger idea -- I've no doubt that Stewart can go onto far better things. Sadly, I cannot think of a single person I would recommend Bigfoot County to, not because it's incompetently made, but because it fails to tell a tale that demands the viewer's attention, simply spluttering along for some 80-plus tedious minutes.
Lionsgate's DVD release of Bigfoot County doesn't contain any special features. The 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer is largely impressive, with a sharp, detailed picture that contains strong colors. The 5.1 soundtrack is clear, with a handful of moments that make a good use of the rear speakers.
If for some reason I've not been clear enough in expressing my dislike of Bigfoot County, I'll summarize the film with a line from Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy: "It smells like Bigfoot's dick!"
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 82 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Rated R