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By LastCaress1972 January 28, 2017
One of the many, many cinéma vérité, "found footage" horrors out there, and one which regrettably has ambition that outstretches its reach. Most obviously calling to mind the well-executed Norwegian hit Trolljegeren (Troll Hunter), The Lost Coast Tapes centers around a small-time television presenter's attempt to kick-start his stalled career with a documentary about the legendary Sasquatch, having come into contact with a portentous and theatrical mountain-dweller claiming to be able to provide - for a considerable sum of money - incontrovertible proof of the existence of the cryptozoological primates that perpetuate the "Bigfoot" myth in the Californian hills. Obviously our man doesn't believe a word of it but he thinks that the mountain man's elaborate hoax combined with his own dry disassembly of same will add up to TV gold. He brings with him into the hills his buddy cameraman, his mysticism-loving producer ex-girlfriend and a new-to-the-team sound man, so nerdy it's farcical. Needless to say, things go very wrong for all concerned.
I think it's a neat little idea, but low-budget found-footage movies need to balance quite a few spinning plates in order to be a good film: The protagonists need to be both real and likeable (or at least sympathetic), the camerawork needs to be shaky enough to give it that raw feel but also clear enough to give the audience the required degrees of tension/terror, and the budget for the film and the central conceit need to marry up; that is to say that if your film is about trolls and you plan to show those trolls, your budget needs to adequately cover that, but if your budget is non-existent then perhaps your film should be about something considerably more insubstantial like, say, the spirit of a witch haunting the woods of Maryland. The Lost Coast Tapes unfortunately fails on all of these counts. The actors, without exception, come across as trying too hard to "act". They're possibly sticking too stolidly to a script that reads too melodramatically. Whilst the three surrounding crew members are stereotypical and unsympathetic fodder, the main protagonist (Drew Rausch, Battleship) is one of the most unlikeable leads I've seen in recent memory. I wanted him dead by the end of the first scene. The Sasquatch-baiting mountain dweller is played by a guy (Frank Ashmore) desperately wishing he was Brian Cox but coming across like Tom Baker in Blackadder II. The shaky-cam was so all over the place and lingering for far too long on nothing in particular so often that I found myself getting angry at the film. This of course is usually done to cover a deficit in the available effects, but here it covers for both that AND the fact that next-to-nothing is actually happening. When something DOES happen, some daft face-cam conceit means that we see our protagonists in close-up head shot reacting to what's about to attack them in laughably inept fashion ("Aah! No, no... aagh!"). To cap everything, this film with a budget that can't adequately even display the Sasquatches that the film is supposed to be about, has the audacity later on to suggest that the film's about other things, undefined horrors much worse than Sasquatches, things represented here by some floodlights being shone into the windows. Again, nothing wrong with the idea, but they've gone from an idea that was in the end too big for the film to handle, to an even bigger idea. D'oh!
So, anything to like? Well, I like the Sasquatch concept, I like found footage movies despite their rabid overuse at this point, and anything involving being lost in the woods - however poorly executed - is inherently scary. But this film doesn't do enough with any of that, I'm afraid.
Fantastic poster, though.
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