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Exists (2014) – Overedited and Disappointing

User Rating: 4.5

I’m really disappointed with this found footage film. I’ve seen good rates and was hoping to see something good, but I did not enjoy it very much… And the disappointment is bigger if I think that the director is the same that realized the masterpiece The Blair Witch Project, a movie that seems to be made by a totally different person… I know that he directed also a part in V/H/S 2, which is a movie I love, but it was the weakest part in my opinion.

Ok, let’s start with the plot. We have 5 friends going for a fun weekend in a cabin in the woods and they’re going to record everything with their GoPro cameras(because they are going to record some bike tricks) and some other cameras. On the way to the cabin, they hit with their car what seems to be a big animal, and after they find the cabin they start to have some “strange” visits. Now, the plot is pretty standard, nothing bad nothing good. We’ll find out [SPOILER] at the end that the creature chasing them was a Bigfoot that was seeking revenge because what they hit with the car was Bigfoot’s cub. Nothing exceptional and no, there’s no philosophical questioning because of this ending. Is Bigfoot or Humanity the real monster? Bigfoot, because the cub was hit by a car accidentally. But This all would still be enjoyable if it wasn’t for the TERRIBLE cinematography…

First question: what is this movie? A Found Footage or a Mockumentary? Already from the beginning, it seems some sort of mockumentary because I see edited videos of the protagonists. But there’s never a mockumentary narration… STILL we have MANY(too many) edits.

This would probably sound like a silly thing from me to be said, but if the ones reading this review are found footage purists like me, they’ll understand what I’m saying. What I’m looking for in a found footage is the PURITY. I don’t want a normal movie that is called found footage just because it has shaky cameras instead of professional cameras. This one movie is just a normal movie but with cheap cameras. Not a found footage at all. Why? Because a found footage doesn’t have background music and doesn’t have TONS of edits. It’s so annoying watching conversations among the protagonists and seeing the point of view changing from one camera to the other. Why? Why that? I don’t want a camera switch… It doesn’t make it better. Take Blair Witch Project for example. You have ONE and JUST ONE camera. And still it is perfect. I think the director has tried too much in this case. Less is better in found footages. We have so many edits that at some points you can hear the voice of one of the characters while the images seen are from other moments (sort of narration) but why that?? Should I think the footage has been edited? Someone found it, saw there was the proof of a BigFoot creature and STILL thought the important thing was editing some catchy song in the parts where the protagonists do bike tricks and putting a fast forward effect during the sunset? And editing. All that editing. Every time there is an editing touch the viewer LOSES a lot of immersion. This should be the first priority of a found footage director! Take Cloverfield, or REC or Blair Witch Project for example. You have NOT ONCE an editing moment. Just the camera recording or stopping. It’s so simple and so perfect! Or, if you want to do something more like a mockumentary, a perfect example is Noroi. That Japanese mockumentary has some editing, just like every mockumentary should have, but in fact it IS a mockumentary. The people in it have the time to edit, because the scenario is always changing! Here you do not have the time because chased by a Bigfoot and away from the civilized world… This is the main thing that ruined the movie for me. Was it Brian editing everything after he survived? Still it ruins everything. It would have been much more immersive watching a pure footage.

And what about the microphones? In NO way it is a good thing having microphones in found footages. It’s better a bad audio than a microphoned audio, for sure! Microphones are good in NORMAL movies. But it is important to understand that when someone chooses the found footage genre, there are rules to follow or the movie will be absurd. Why microphones? For a good audio? And why a good audio? Then make a normal Bigfoot movie, because found footage movies have realistic audio usually…
The second question is: Why filming?

You may think that they have body-attached GoPro cameras during the escaping/running scenes. But no… Sadly. The only scenes I can justify are the bike scene(similar to the V/H/S 2 segment) and the night vision scenes. But most of the scenes are forced. Brian(the camera guy) should be wearing a body-attached camera, but we see him on many occasions (for example when they have to barricade the door) leaving the camera, doing what he has to do, and then taking the camera back, in a way that seems impossible with a body attached camera… So the viewer must think… Why is Brian keeping the camera while in danger? Or why is Brian recording the girls or Roger in tension moments, while recording someone should be the last of his thoughts? So disappointing…

Then we have the acting. And I have to say i ve found it average, but at least it was better than many found footages. Probably it’s just the protagonists’ characters that are not very interesting, but I would have liked many more random talks or little spontaneous reactions, that could give the impression of a realistic recording. Here instead I have two possible feelings: or the dialogues feel scripted(the typical cliche’ dialogue lines like “It’s your fault!” “Do not go there!” “I’ll kill you, beast!”) or the characters are the most stereotypical persons ever. In The Blair Witch Project for example, you have such a precision in the random dialogues/reactions that I almost can’t believe it’s the same director…One thing more: the monster. It’s not done well. I have the feeling of a costume

One thing more: the monster. It’s not done well. I have the feeling of a costume every time I see it in the videos(except for the last scene). And it should have been seen a lot LESS. Because seeing his face immediately(at the first attack, through the window) is killing the tension. And I can name you another Bigfoot found-footage that plays better with tension than this movie: Willow Creek. There you do not see the monster ’till the very end. THIS is how you play with tension.In conclusion… if you’re doing a found footage/mockumentary, do a found footage/mockumentary! NOT a normal movie with first-person cameras…

In conclusion… if you’re doing a found footage/mockumentary, do a found footage/mockumentary! NOT a normal movie with first-person cameras…

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