The Lost Coast Tapes (2012)
I’m starting to feel like I’m in a GROUNDHOG DAY situation when it comes to watching bad horror movies. Not that it happens all the time – often I’ll see a movie which sucks for reasons of its own, which can be entertaining in its own right.
But the tired Found Footage genre falls into terribly predictable patterns. And I hate to say that THE LOST COAST TAPES falls into one of these patterns. Which is a shame, because there was so much promise here, especially given that it taps into Monsters, in particular the elusive Bigfoot, aka Sasquatch, aka a less bestial member of JERSEY SHORE. Most of the Found Footage crap out there has been about hauntings, possessions and the occasional UFO, which is really just a souped-up modern version of those self-same hauntings and possessions, only with more anal probes. Really, if you’re travelling hundreds of light years to fingerbang us, at least leave us the plans for cold fusion. Money up front, Greys!
THE LOST COAST TAPES opens with paranormal investigator and sceptic Sean Reynolds (Drew Rausch, BATTLESHIP) receiving the funds for a new project, one that might propel him out of the doldrums he’s been in since his last popular show was exposed as a hoax and he lost credibility (to be fair, though, if he’s doing paranormal reality shows, his credibility level is going to be relatively low to begin with).
He starts to assemble a crew, bucking at least one trope by being unable to hire a black guy or his sassy black girlfriend (hope you enjoyed this brief foray into originality, coz that’s your lot, folks). He does hire an Adam Sandberg-lookalike named Kevin (Noah Weisberg, LEGALLY BLONDE: THE MUSICAL. Hey, don’t blame me, Noah, you featured in it), who is so constantly and over-the-top in his terror of everything that he could be channelling Shaggy, and I don’t mean the Mister Boombastic one. He also gets his buddy Darryl (Rich Coleman, GOD BLESS AMERICA) and New Ager Robyn (Ashley Wood, ARGO), who also happens to be his ex-girlfriend (wow, that’s original).
They travel deep into California’s Lost Coast, a mostly undeveloped section of the state’s north coast, named so after the area experienced depopulation in the 1930s, and because the steepness and other challenges of the coastal mountains make this stretch of coastline too costly for state highway or county road builders to establish routes through the area, leaving it the most undeveloped and remote portion of the coastline. Sean has been in touch with a woodsman named Drybeck (Frank Ashmore, AIRPLANE!), who claims to have in his possession the body of a Bigfoot, and is willing to have it filmed – for a sizeable fee, of course. Sean doesn’t believe, but is willing to go along with it, as well as Drybeck’s conditions: that the crew give up their mobile phones and be hooded so they’ll never know their precise location. Yes, that’ll work out nicely for them – hope Kevin brought lube.
Drybeck has an associate, an even more secretive Larouche (Rowdy Kelley, THE MAJESTIC, and who has also worked on the TV documentary FINDING BIGFOOT as a location scout and production assistant), and their cabin possesses an electric fence powered by an unreliable generator. Yes, that’ll work out nicely for them – hope Bigfoot brought ketchup.
During the night, there’s the usual loud shrieks, rocks thrown at the roof, scratches found on the walls outside the next morning. Sean is amazed – at the ingenuity of Drybeck and Larouche to fake it all. But then Drybeck takes off with the only vehicle, Kevin panics some more, Robyn tries to make New Age shamanistic contact with the Bigfoots (Bigfeet? Scott, you’re the expert, what’s the plural?), and Sean begins to believe in the myth – and the things behind the myths. Yes, that’ll work out nicely- no wait, it’s gonna fuck them over.
What’s right with LOST COAST TAPES? Well, the cryptozoology of the Bigfoot is well-researched, with all the little details (like the notorious stench) that other movies might overlook. Further, it posits that the Bigfoot is not a traditional species, but in fact slips in and out of our reality (using something similar to the Aborigine concept of Dreamtime), which is why remains can never be found and footprints can suddenly end for no discernible reason). Even more interesting, there is a suggestion that the Bigfoot is not an intruder, but a guardian, protecting our world from truly dangerous threats…
It’s a small cast, and therefore a low body count, but what we do see happen is striking and shocking for those few moments. The cast is fine enough, though the guy who plays Kevin might either endear or annoy people. The other standout is Frank Ashmore as Drybeck, who keeps matters ambiguous – but strangely enough, his acting style differs from the rest of the cast, who aim for a more natural style. And the scenery is lovely, allowing for some very decent shots; director Corey Grant (DYSFUNCTIONAL FRIENDS) shows genuine talent.
But beyond all this? There is the intense frustration that the movie seems to go out of its way to tick all the boxes that compromise a generic Found Footage Film:
- Trapped in the middle of nowhere
- Contrived situation of being cut off from communications
- The group splits off and someone tries in vain to make it back to civilisation
- Night vision footage sequences
- Female characters being leered at with the camera
- The lead cameraman keeping the camera going even when people are dying in front of him.
- People screaming and shitting their pants, while pointing the camera at their own faces instead of what’s making them scream and shit their pants
If the filmmakers had ditched the found footage notion, made a conventional horror movie (and spent some extra money on FX), they could have had something decent here. Or better yet, get more money and make a Bigfoot version of TROLL HUNTER (Drybeck’s character was practically made for the title role). The more I think about it, the more an American version of TROLL HUNTER with the Bigfoot would be a kick-ass idea. But THE LOST COAST TAPES, while promising with some decent things going for it, isn’t it.
Check out the trailer here.
Director: Corey Grant
Plot: 2 out of 5 stars
Gore: 1 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Derek “Deggsy” O’Brien