Directed by Eduardo Sanchez
Written by Jamie Nash
I have to walk a bit of a tightrope when it comes to reviewing the films of director Eduardo Sanchez. There's a good reason for this: when I first began this blog in November of 2010 he was the first person I reached out to for an interview and fortunately he graciously accepted. During the interview he was courteous, informative and most of all patient as I struggled sometimes to ask relevant questions and maintain the proper train of thought. Since then I've been able to talk to him briefly at various times via social media and he is still just as kind as he was then. When I review his films I have a rule: If I dislike the film I don't offer the same smart-ass attitude that I reserve for a majority of the bad films that I've had the displeasure of watching. I try to be as constructive as I can in my criticism because, simply put, the man deserves it. It was that way with The Blair Witch Project (which I loved); and Lovely Molly (not so much). Then, there is Exists.
I've made it clear several times that I believe Willow Creek to be arguably the best 'found footage' film that I've ever seen and that hasn't changed. What has changed is that it is no longer the best Bigfoot movie that I have ever seen. I'm not being sycophantic when I tell you that cinematic achievement belongs to Eduardo Sanchez and his Exists. He gives us Bigfoot in the first five minutes of the film and never gives us a chance to breathe for the remainder of the film's 81 minute running time. This isn't Roger Patterson's Bigfoot walking away from the camera and into the woods; this is the in-your-face, angry, rampaging king of the forest.
Sanchez and screenwriter Jamie Nash (Altered) keep the plot simple in order to keep the pace fast and the suspense cranked to it's highest level. Five friends head into the woods to spend time in a cabin belonging to an uncle and are ceaselessly terrorized both night and day by the legendary cryptid. Like nearly all Sasquatch films we (nearly) never truly get a prolonged look at the creature and that's a good thing because that means that Sanchez is giving us time to catch our breath. I sucked my breath in at the first encounter with the monster and didn't exhale until the final frame of the film. I've often said that what you can't see is ten times more frightening than what you can.
The worst criticism I have for Exists is that near the climax we are reminded a bit too heavily of the Blair Witch Project. It's a reminder that lasts for a few seconds and I almost feel like I am nitpicking for even mentioning it. The main things that came to mind as I was watching Exists are that Eduardo Sanchez is the undisputed master of the found footage film. The second is that I may never venture into the woods again. If I do I will never, ever mess with Sasquatch.