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EXIST

SYNOPSIS: When brothers, Brian (Chris Osborn) and Matt Tover (Samuel Davis) head to their Uncle's long abandoned cabin in East Texas for a party weekend with their friends and find themselves stalked by BigFoot, the legendary Sasquatch. Cut off from the world, the group has to try to make it out of the woods alive, as they are pursued by the creature.

Review by Louise Keller:
If you hang in there, the final half hour is terrifying, especially with the appearance of BigFoot who dominates the screen in every way. But the main problem with Sanchez' Exist is a lacklustre script with few surprises for its cardboard characters. As a consequence, it is difficult to become hugely engaged when the cinematic style in which voices are dislocated and the camera captures only part of the image - supposedly as a tease - is not enough.

The initial frivolity in the car as we meet the characters as they head towards the isolated cabin in the heart of the Texan woods is well done. There is a lot of jiving and we get the sense of the chaotic, laid-back mood and atmosphere. No surprise that Brian (Chris Osborn) is a video enthusiast, ready to put his video footage on YouTube. There's a bump in the night, when the car hits something but as the five friends investigate, there is nothing to be seen. Then the wailing sound begins. 'That ain't no deer, bro,' says one of the characters as they look through the bush with torchlight.

There is a constant sense of contrivance as Brian and his friends find the deserted cabin, and looks as though 'someone left in a hurry'. We later find that Brian's key motive is to find substance to his uncle's sightings of BigFoot and he ogles at the huge paw prints. Meanwhile, as night turns into day, there's FX bike riding and skinny-dipping as the ominous reservations from the filthy cabin are forgotten.

The constant movement of the handheld camera is irritating as the characters either fool around or shriek in terror. The soundscape is effective with eerie sounds and Sanchez uses all the tricks of the trade to instill elements of fear. Brian's dialogue with the unseen predator is blatantly ridiculous. 'There's definitely something moving,' he tells the camera. 'Hello... hello... I think I see something... Hey, we can be friends man.'

The scariest scenes are those in which the screen is almost all black, accompanied by roars, glass breaking, screams and expletives. We try to fathom what are the shadows on the screen through the chaos. Sanchez knows the importance of less is more and this central sequence is unsettling to say the least, the tension being retained until the end.

When Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick created The Blair Witch Project in 1999, it was a new genre and approach to horror with its hand-held, home-made movie approach. Fifteen years later, there is little novelty, with more required in terms of character development and story to keep our interest. However, the film clearly has an audience; Exist won the Audience Award at SXSW this year.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

EXIST (MA15+)
(US, 2014)

CAST: Samuel Davis, Dora Madison Burge, Roger Edwards, Chris Osborn

PRODUCER: Robin Cowie, Jane Fleming, Andy Jenkins, Mark Ordesky

DIRECTOR: Eduardo Sanchez

SCRIPT: Jamie Nash

CINEMATOGRAPHER: John Rutland

EDITOR: Andrew Eckblad, Andy Jenkins

MUSIC: Nima Fakhrara

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Andrew White

RUNNING TIME: 85 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Incubate

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 13, 2014 (Sydney: Event Cinemas - George Street, Liverpool, Campbelltown; Qld: Chedrmisde; SA: Marion, WA: Inaloo.)







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