New on BluRay/DVD, On Demand, & digital download from Dread & Epic Pictures!

HOAX (2019)

Directed by Matt Allen
Written by Matt Allen, Scott Park
Starring Adrienne Barbeau, Brian Thompson, Ben Browder, Shoshana Bush, Cheryl Texiera, Hutch Dano, Anthony Ray Parker, Matt Riedy, Christopher Soren Kelly, Max Decker, Ryan Lee, Lauren Ashlyn O’Brien, Máire Higgins, Nolan Ritter, Schuyler Denham, Brian Landis Folkins, Alex Graff, Karen Slack, Shawn Rickel, & Pat Jankiewicz as the Bigfoot!
Find out more about this film here

HOAX is a well intentioned film. It’s got tons of references only horror fans will recognize, as well as a cast sporting some genre greats. The film most likely was made by fans of the genre and sports a modest budget to make those adorations come to life. There is a lot to like about HOAX, but the film does sport some blatant flaws that keep it from being a genuine Bigfoot classic.

After a group of campers disappear, leaving a bloody campsite and rumors of a large monster roaming the dense Colorado forests. A TV host searching for fame gathers a group of experts; a biologist, a bodyguard, a pilot, a cameraman, a reporter, & the father of one of the victims, to answer the definitive questions about the existence of Bigfoot. As the members of the group are picked off one by one, the answers they find are quite definitive indeed—but is it Bigfoot or a hoax?!??!?

I really can appreciate some of the references dropped in this film. The entire first scene is a condensed FRIDAY THE 13TH installment with Bigfoot as the slasher. They even quote the campfire story scene almost verbatim. Later Adrienne Barbeau makes a cameo and horror icon Brian Thompson (COBRA/FRIGHT NIGHT 2/X-FILES) factors in prominently in his role as the bodyguard with a heart of gold. As much as I like these nods to horror’s past, they are anything but subtle. The F13 opener makes fun of the vapidness of slashers rather than honors them and Adrienne Barbeau’s lines about coming in from the swamp and mentions of a crate and downright painful to hear. It’s less witty banter as it is simply working in an obvious pun in a place that it doesn’t belong.

The acting here, and not only in the original sequence which I guess is supposed to be campy, is rough all over. Besides Thompson, who is surprisingly great in the film, the rest of the cast simply scream and read their lines—sometimes at the same time. The way the film looks doesn’t do it any favors either. Brightly lit and blandly staged, there is a point and shoot feel to the way this film looks—as if no time was spent on caring about filters or dramatic lighting or camera setups. Most of the film looks like one of those brightly lit SCYFY movies.

The film works once the sun goes down. The night scenes are actually quite moody and gruesome, as are the particularly bloody ways in which the researchers are dispatched by our hairy antagonist. I was impressed at how much this film works in the after hours settings compared to the limp sunshine moments. The quality and tone are as different as…dare I say it…night and day. It’s too bad more of this film wasn’t filmed in the nighttime as I think I would be much less critical.

The twists and turns that pop up during the last twenty minutes are inspired. This feels like a film that had a good ending in mind when it started, but simply didn’t know how to get there. The longer I stuck with HOAX, the more I liked about it. It’s got a rough start and the middle portion meanders a lot, but the ending really delivers some jolts and surprises. It’s too bad the rest of HOAX didn’t work on the same level.