JULY 18, 2012
Before I say anything else about Lost Woods, I want to congratulate the crew for raising the dough (mostly their own, from what I understand), filming/editing the movie, playing some festivals, and getting it released. They’ve gotten further than most, and according to the film’s Twitter page they’re already working on another film (not a sequel, I assume), which is always better than those who make a film and then pimp it endlessly instead of making another. I know established filmmakers who have trouble getting to that point as of late, so it’s truly commendable.
Sadly, there aren’t too many nice things I can say about the film itself: it’s awkwardly paced, the actors are all seemingly just saying their lines as quickly as possible so that they can get back to whatever they were doing, and the kills are mostly off-screen and/or bloodless. Add in all of the really bizarre goofs (like when someone says “good night” and goes to bed when it’s clearly like 4 in the afternoon) and nonsensical ending, and you have a movie that is seemingly going out of its way to keep you from liking it. Come on, I like Bigfoot! And I like indie horror! Why are you making this so hard?!?
At times it feels like this was the editor’s first assemblage of all the footage they had gotten so far when there was another week or so to shoot, and somehow it ended up being the final version. There are missing beats throughout; early on the hero is asked to join his friends on a camping trip and he turns them down, but then in the next cut his friend is telling him how much fun he’ll have. Now, there’s no comedic beat to any of this – it’s not like they pan over and reveal that they had to drag him to the truck, or after he turned them down he noticed a big bag of weed or something and then changed his mind – it’s more like they simply missed the connective thread. In fact they might as well have just cut from them asking him to go to when they were all in the truck, as nothing in between served any narrative function OR provided entertainment value. And there are quite a few moments like that, constantly making me wonder if they didn’t actually shoot everything and hoped no one would notice.
Hell it doesn’t even have a real entrance for the Bigfoot. Unless you count a truly inane dream sequence, it takes forever for him to show up (the 50 minute mark; it runs just over 80 not counting credits), but they don’t bother giving him a grand entrance to make up for it - he just sort of lumbers out in a medium shot as if at this point of the movie we had already seen him a number of times. And ordinarily I’d chalk it up to an insufficient FX budget or something, but one of the movie’s few saving graces is that the monster is a guy in a suit, not some terrible CGI abomination. I believe they enhanced some of the closeups with visual FX later, but for the most part it’s clearly a guy in a big hairy suit, doing his thing. It’s not a particularly great design (the neon blue eyes are a mistake), but after so many terrible, weightless monsters over the years, it’s nice to see one take a bit of a tumble and interact with the dirt/grass, get some over the suit, etc.
Important information about the group’s history is also needlessly kept from us and then haphazardly “revealed” during conversation. Apparently they were all childhood pals and had a close relationship with one of the group’s mothers, which might have been nice to know up front, especially since the forced acting made them all seem like they just met in line at the bank earlier. There’s an opening sequence (partially brought to life with comic book panels, a motif that sadly disappears for the rest of the film) that shows two of them screwing with fireworks and how one of them gets in trouble while the other one hides, but that just tells us only two of them knew each other – where was everyone else? And where’s the mom who was so important? It’s just so clumsy.
However, there IS a musical number about a boner during the best group pee scene since White Water Summer, so I’m at a loss as to whether or not I find the movie worthwhile. I also dug the rock tunes; not sure the band name but they sounded a bit like Anberlin. Good band.
The disc has a commentary by the filmmakers and two others (they don’t explain what they did; I think it’s the main actor and some crew member), and that one CERTAINLY isn’t worth your time. Even if you loved the movie I can’t see how the track would be of any use to a stranger, as they just sort of chat about random things and often just sit in silence, as if they weren’t recording a commentary but maybe getting together to QC the movie before outputting to DVD and happened to say some stuff on tape. And there’s almost nothing about the script or "We didn't have time to shoot the part that would have made more sense out of this scene"; it’s mostly all of the “it was cold that night” and “We shot this in Burbank” variety. However we DO learn that one of them bought Shadow of the Colossus for the PS3 recently, so that’s good.
The other features are of little use; one is the complete (fake) commercial that shows on one character’s TV for a few seconds, the other an alternate ending that is mostly presented in comic book type panels (or like 24) for some reason – like the animated opening (which is mixed with live action) it’s a motif that doesn’t appear anywhere else in the movie, so it’s a strange approach. I do like the IDEA of the twist they have with the Bigfoot (which this ending explores a bit more), but as presented here and in the film proper it’s more confusing than anything, and deserved to be a main focus of the action, not something tossed in at random without any of the characters even really commenting on it.
Final note – according to the IMDb page, this movie had a theatrical release (on my birthday!) and did fairly well for an indie on a dozen screens. But I am convinced this is in error, as neither the film’s Facebook or Twitter pages make any mention of a theatrical bow. Considering there are four posts about its DVD release, I would think that might be the sort of thing they mention at least once. However, if it’s true and they just forgot to advertise it, then that’s awesome too, and I wish them the best on their next movie.
What say you?