A reality TV producer heads to the remote Colorado wilderness in search of Bigfoot. His target is a mountainous area where a number of campers recently went missing. Joining him are a primate specialist, a reporter, various ex-military security types, and the father of one of the missing campers. With the producer tasked with finding proof to guarantee a slot on the broadcast schedule, and a title like Hoax, you might think you know where the film is going. But you should think again.
Hoax, Matt Allen’s feature-length debut, starts strong. A 5-minute pre-credit stinger plays as a mostly effective short film that introduces the Bigfoot lore around a campfire, before the unwitting teens couple-up for coitus. Flashes of a menacing figure work to build up tension before the boobs and the blood start flying. Is it clichéd? Sure. But it’s a cliché because it works, and Allen’s opener is no exception.
Unfortunately, long stretches simply don’t live up to the opening and closing of the film. The clichés continue beyond the opening scene and become increasingly tired as the middle act drags on. Even character names feel contrived. A kid wears a jersey with the name Loomis. The pilot is named Jonesy. An actor, presumably portraying the eponymous out-of-focus creature, is credited simply as ‘The Shape.’ In a more over-the-top or tongue-in-cheek movie, these references might come off as witty or clever. Here, they just feel like vacuous references.
Instead, Allen has his actors playing more or less straight up, taking themselves too seriously for a campy, cult film vibe. Ultimately, Hoax has neither the production value nor the originality to be played straight. The premise and twists might have worked in more of a Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 type of context, but here it just feels largely flat and lifeless.
That said, Allen bookends Hoax with a pair of genuinely enjoyable sequences. In addition, the team pulls off several thrilling set-pieces, including an ambitious broad daylight Bigfoot chase. There are reasons to check it out, but a lot of viewers simply won’t find enough to set it apart from the plethora of Bigfoot content already available.
Hoax is available now on Blu Ray and VOD.
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