Hoax Movie Review
Written by R.J. MacReady
Released by Epic Pictures
Directed by Matt Allen
Written by Matt Allen and Scott Park
2019, 96 Minutes, Not Rated
Released on August 20th, 2019
Adrienne Barbeau as Wilma
Brian Thompson as John Singer
Ben Browder as Rick Paxton
Shoshana Bush as Bridgette Powers
Cheryl Texiera as Dr. Ellen Freese
Hutch Dano as Justin Johnson
There have been a lot of movies about the legendary creature; Imdb has over 150 of them. The Legend of Boggy Creek scared me as a kid, and is enjoying a resurgence recently thanks to Joe Bob Briggs. It was probably the thing that spurred the Bigfoot craze of the ‘70s and ‘80s, leading to In Search of segments and even The Six Million Dollar Man fighting it. (Well, sort of; it turned out to be a robot.)
Since then there have been tons of them. Some are fun, like Harry and the Hendersons, Exists, The Man Who Killed Hitler and then The Bigfoot, and Abominable. Others are terrible like Willow Creek, Snowbeast and Bigfoot at Holler Creek Canyon.
I know what some of you are saying right now. You're saying, "Woah – some of those are Abominable Snowman movies, not Bigfoot movies", and to those people I wanna say this: Can't we all come together and agree that the Abominable Snowman is just Bigfoot in the snow? We can, right? Great. Moving on.
(And some of you are like, "Hey, Willow Creek was good, man!". I'll admit that I'm surprised that you can actually read, but I'll just tell you – it is terrible. There isn't even any Bigfoot in it. There are some dirty old naked people if that's your thing. But this movie is hot garbage.)
All this brings us to the question of which side Hoax falls into. Good or bad? And is it worth watching, either way?
The movie opens up on six horny teenagers sitting around a campfire telling scary stories. It's a rough way to open up, because we've seen this done about 40,000,000 times in horror, and unless you're going to add something new or at the very least sprinkle in some memorable dialogue, you're wasting everyone's time. Unfortunately, this scene does just that. You get a smattering of boobies, a shadowy silhouette monster and sprayed blood, but nothing else. All six kids are murdered by Bigfoot.
Then we get a cameo from genre legend Adrienne Barbeau as a primate doctor. It's a waste of her talent, as she serves little purpose other than to send her protege off into the wilderness. See, a TV producer has decided to take a crew out to the scene of where those kids died. Played by Farscape star Ben Browder, he's your typical "Here For The Story At All Costs" guy, but he plays it believably. He's bringing along security guy Brian Thompson, who still cuts an imposing figure at 59 years of age.
With them are the random forgettable characters: cute TV host, camera guy, grieving father of one of the victims, aforementioned primate expert, helicopter pilot, and one or two others that I couldn't even tell you their purpose – other than to add body count.
They trek into the forest, all of them wanting to film Bigfoot other than the grieving father, who wants to confirm what happened to his kid. His story was the one that could have had the most meat to it, and at times almost gets there...but...what's that saying about horseshoes and hand grenades?
Bigfoot movies are made and broken in the same way werewolf movies are. It all boils down to how good is the monster's design. Bad news – the only shots of Bigfoot that you get in the first 67 minutes are out of focus as Bigfoot runs by the camera in extreme close up. You can see NOTHING.
Around minute 68 you get a shaky POV shot of Bigfoot running for about a second. This lead me to believe that the costume is not up to snuff – I mean, if you've got the goods then you wouldn't be taking so much effort to not show ANY part of it...
At the 75 minute mark you finally get a shot of Bigfoot's face, and it's not terrible. Not amazing, but certainly not the worst I've seen. The beast starts taking people out with the help of some uninspiring effects, and then the script takes a pretty weird turn. Characters start doing stuff that makes no sense, and there's a Shyamalan twist that lands with a heavy thud.
I don't like slamming low-budget productions. This is pretty clearly an under-a-million production budget, but the script brings almost nothing to the table. The one interesting character is relegated to the background for 99% of the film. The only thing that gave me a little bit of joy was hearing a new score by the underrated Alan Howarth, who helped John Carpenter score many of his movies as well as going on to solo-score some of the later Halloween films. An aside, if you ever get to see him perform live at a convention, do it – he's amazing.
In the end, Hoax is a hollow, mostly-uninteresting addition to the Bigfoot oeuvre. If you've seen literally all the rest and are looking for something new, then I guess you could give this a try. Just keep those expectations low.
But hey, this gives me time to list the ones I'd suggest you check out first:
- Legend of Boggy Creek – still something creepy and authentic about it. It feels real.
- Abominable – has an undefinable '80s flavor with a great-looking practical monster, and beloved genre vet Tiffany Shepis.
- Exists – From the co-creator of The Blair Witch Project, and featuring a solid Bigfoot design.
- Man Vs. – Not a Bigfoot movie, but it feels like one for a good hour.
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