Young film maker Stephon Lancaster along with his brother Davee and future sister-in-law Shy, head from Los Angeles to remote Siskiyou County, California to make a documentary about bigfoot, hoping to track down a man who made a 911 call after apparently seeing bigfoot in his yard. After interviewing various local residents, Stephon is given a lead about the man who made the call and they head to his remote cabin. The man, Travis, offers to guide them into the deep woods where they are most likely to get a glimpse of the elusive creature...
Although not the first film to use the format, Blair Witch Project (1999) brought 'found footage' into the horror mainstream and since then the concept has proven perenially popular with low budget film-makers, particularly into the 2010s when digital video cameras have allowed for hand-held footage to provide ever better picture quality. While some new productions like The Last Exorcism (2010) have taken the format out of its 'running through the woods' origins and into formalised faux-documentary productions, Bigfoot County reverts to the amateur film-makers fleeing unknown horrors ideas of the earlier films.
Despite its somewhat cliché set-up, Bigfoot County, scripted by the director Stephon Stewart, avoids falling into the traps of many contemporary micro-budget horrors, most notably it is not a thrill-a-minute gore-fest, instead going for the very slow-burn approach to introduce the characters and the situation, allowing the threat to build-up naturally with no false scares to ruin the atmosphere and without the dragging or padding that might be expected. As a result, the scenes deep in the woods are genuinely scary and like the main characters the viewer is left unsure what they are facing. Perhaps most importantly then for a film that spends its whole runtime around them, the main characters are plausible - unlike a lot of contemporary rural horrors (cf Wrong Turn et al.) the rustic nature of the locals is not overplayed, nor the urban arrogance of the visitors, their reactions to the unfolding situations are understandable and the dialogue is believable, avoiding any forced exposition. Indeed the film sticks to its authentic approach throughout and as it never moves away from the 'found footage', explains very little aside from what snippets of dialogue can be heard, which particularly towards the ending might disappoint some viewers hoping for a neat denoument. The conclusion itself is likely to prove a very polarising moment, taking a rather unexpected turn that I personally felt destroyed some of the good atmosphere and ambiguity up to that point, although it is redeemed somewhat by the very ending.
As a production, Bigfoot County is appropriately minimalist and it certainly feels like the three main characters are simply filming it as they go along, with no cut-aways or exterior shots to betray the film's authenticity. The locations look and feel approapriately rural and what limited special effects are used and sympathetic. As expected, there is no musical soundtrack.
Lead actor Stephon Stewart also directed and scripted the project, while Shy Pilgreen and Davee Youngblood are both credited as producers. The three have to carry most of the film and fortunately their (seemingly largely improvised) performances are solid and plausible. Sam Ayers who plays Travis is probably the most recognisable face on the cast - a regular Hollywood TV bit part player - and gives a solid performance to the eccentric character, avoiding making him unbelievable.
Rather like its contemporary, The Last Exorcism, Bigfoot County will not appeal to all - the films' adherence to a strict 'found footage' format do restrict them and despite being marketed as all out horrors, both use a slow burn to build character and tension over simple horror shocks and both build to somewhat unexpected and unexplained climaxes that are likely to divide opinions. On its own merits, Bigfoot is a well made little project and its genuine tension and dread in the middle section make it recommendable.
|Anyone famous in it?||No-one well known.|
|Directed by anyone interesting?||Stephon Stewart - an LA based actor making his first directoral turn.|
|Any gore or violence ?||An assault scene but nothing gory.|
|Any sex or nudity?||None|
|Who is it for?||For fans of the more atmospheric horror films.
|Visuals||Original Aspect Ratio - 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colour.
The film was shot digitally so the transfer is flawless.
|Audio||English 5.1 - clear sounds as one would expect recorded on a small camera and some dialgue deliberately muffled.|
|Availability||Released as Bigfoot Tapes in the UK.|
|Region||Region 2 (UK, Europe) - PAL|
|Other regions?||Available from Lionsgate in the US with Spanish and English subtitles but still bare bones.|
|Cuts?||Uncut. Print language is English.|