Directed by: Matt Allen
Starring: Ben Browder, Brian Thompson, Cheryl Texiera, Shoshana Bush, Anthony Ray Parker, Adrienne Barbeau
When six college students go missing in the mountains, there is a huge effort to locate them. Tragically, five of their corpses are discovered, with one girl, Alex Barnes, missing presumed dead, and rumours of Big Foot being responsible. A tv producer called Rick Paxton sees an opportunity to exploit the situation by launching a reality tv - based search for both Alex and Big Foot. However when he and his team reach the incident site, they find they are ill-prepared for what awaits them…
There have been a whole slew of Bigfoot movies in the past few years, such as Willow Creek and Exists. Most such films approach from a "found footage" perspective which can be a real turn-off. Luckily HOAX takes a more traditional approach.
HOAX is very well constructed. After the initial massacre (which includes a great gag during a couple having sex), we get a "putting the team together" scene where we are introduced in turn to Dr Ellen Freese, a primate expert, Cooper Barnes, the father of missing girl Alex, John Singer, a mercenary hired as security and Justin Johnson, the nephew of one of the studio execs on his first summer gig. Later we also meet Roger Brannan, a cryptozoologist who has been hunting Bigfoot for decades, and Brigette Powers, the gorgeous but acerbic news reporter who is going to be fronting the programme.
After this the film settles into the usual Creature Feature pattern. Some false alarms, strange noises in the night, equipment mysteriously disappearing etc. What helps HOAX is the knowledge that Rick is on his last legs in the tv business and desperately needs a hit show to save his career - how far is he willing to go? Will he try to fool his team into thinking Bigfoot is real? What also helps is the camera work and cinematography are really good and the film seems very slickly made with no slack. Director Matt Allen is obviously a Horror movie fan, there are references to both Aliens and John Carpenter's The Fog in there (as well as some props from Aliens - check out the motion sensor!). Even the score has overtones of Carpenter.
Another thing about HOAX that needs mentioning is the final 15 minutes, where the film switches from being a Creature Feature and turns into…something else, and it has to be said that some people might find this very rough going indeed. Personally, I loved it.
With nods to past classics and a classical Creature Feature narrative framework, HOAX is very entertaining with a great cast of characters. The production values and filmatism behind the camera are totally solid. Don't say I didn't warn you about that finale though.