An ex-soldier ventures into the Pacific Northwest to uncover the truth behind his fiance's disappearance.
Find Hot New Movies & TV Releases Available This Week from Vudu!
One of my earliest cinematic memories is of my mom taking me and my sister to a double feature of Orca
, two of the greatest Jaws
ripoffs ever made. Also, as a child of the seventies, I have always been fascinated by Bigfoot movies. So, on paper, Big Legend
should be a slam dunk for me. In practicality, not so much.
is about an ex-military outdoorsman named Tyler Laird (Kevin Makely from "The Cavanaughs") whose fiancée disappears when the couple is attacked by a Sasquatch while camping. After being released from the mental hospital (because, you know, Sasquatch attack), Tyler immediately sets his sights on venturing back into the woods to find his missing love.and the beast that took her. While tracking the creature, Tyler comes across an ally - a hunter named Eli (Todd A. Robinson from Exorcist: The Fallen
) who has the same goal of finding Bigfoot. Tyler and Eli just have to hope that the monster doesn't find them first.
The brainchild of indie filmmaker Justin Lee (who has a slew of projects coming out soon with titles like Any Bullet will Do, A Reckoning, and Swell), Big Legend is a cool combination of a wilderness survival movie and a creature feature. Thankfully, it is not a found footage movie, which seems to be the blueprint for Bigfoot movies ever since 1972's The Legend of Boggy Creek. On a technical level, it's a well-made movie, full of beautiful Pacific Northwest forestry and creepy sound design, with a pair of solid lead performances from Makely and Robinson.
Where Big Legend goes astray in is the pacing. After a heart-pounding introduction scene (which lasts for almost 15 minutes before the title of the film even shows up), the film stalls for a bit while Tyler searches the woods for his Sasquatch foe. The middle section of the film has a few cryptozoological moments, both real and imagined, but it's mostly Tyler and Eli in the woods, hiking and camping, drinking beer and telling 'Squatch stories. It picks up mightily at the end, but for the most part, the whole second act is a lull.
Which, as avid cinema fans might recognize, is the formula for Jaws. Hell, even the minimalistic score (courtesy of Jared Foreman of "Star Wars Rebels") and the wacky dialogue ("Burn, you Son of a Bitch!!") in Big Legend are reminiscent of the quintessential summer blockbuster. Just like shark with the trio aboard the Orca, there's always the feeling that Bigfoot is watching Tyler and Eli as they hang out and wait for him to show himself. Unlike Jaws, however, Big Legend never really cashes in on this sense of paranoia, so all the audience gets is long stretches of wilderness survival and campfire talk.
A quick look at the cast list for Big Legend reveals a handful of familiar horror faces that are great to see. Amanda Wyss from A Nightmare on Elm Street, Adrienne Barbeau from Swamp Thing, and Lance Henriksen from just about every movie ever made all show up in sudden little cameo roles. And Big Legend relishes in the reveal of each one, slowly panning them into frame and lingering a tad too long on their faces before moving on. These legend appearances aren't the main draw of the film, but they do add a number of winks and nudges for horror fans.
For all of the long-winded verbal exposition that is provided around campfires in Big Legend, there's a surprising amount of mythology that is left unexplored, and that is most likely by design. Big Legend seems to set up a franchise, which is cool. Because, for as flawed of a movie as it is, the universe that Big Legend creates looks like it could be a lot of fun to watch unfold.
The smartest decision that Justin Lee makes with Big Legend
is in regards to how he deals with his monster. Again taking a page from Jaws
, the monster is revealed slowly and deliberately, showing a footprint here and a hairy arm there. Even the climactic showdown finds the monster being presented in bits and pieces, either slightly out of focus in the background or in extreme close-up on his menacing fangs. Also to Lee's credit, the Sasquatch appears to be played by a stuntman in a monster suit as opposed to being a CG creation that, like so many modern Bigfoot movies, winds up looking like a video game character (see Happy Camp
for reference). What's scary about Big Legend
is what is not shown to the audience, and in a movie about a creature that is able to hide in plain sight, that's the best way to do it.