I love me a good Bigfoot film. I mean, seriously … what’s better than some unsuspecting schmucks getting hunted down and torn apart by some pissed off Yeti? When a Bigfoot film is done well, it’s a great ride. When it is done poorly, it becomes a tedious exercise in will power (to not turn off the TV). So where does HUNTING GROUNDS, originally titled Valley of the Sasquatch, fit into this spectrum? Well, it’s not the worst of this kind of movie, and it certainly isn’t the greatest.Let’s see where it went all wrong.
Hunting Grounds opens on a high, albeit typical, note with a camper, Bauman (Bill Oberst Jr.) being hunted down and killed by Bigfoot. We then quickly turn to Michael (Miles Joris-Peyrafitte), the son, and Roger (Jason Vail), the dad. They have moved out of their house and have fallen on hard times. The dad’s plan? To move into a hunting cabin until he gets his feet on the ground. Before you go feeling sorry for the dad, keep in mind that he is 100% to blame for the situation he is in. In fact, Roger is a class-A a*****e. Michael, on the other hand, is a kid unfortunately caught up in Roger’s downward spiral. After they settle into the cabin, they are joined by Will (D’Angelo Midili), Michaels uncle, and Sergio (David Saucedo), Roger’s douchenozzle of a best friend.
We get to learn about these four characters, which I’m all for, but while we are getting to know them, nothing is happening on screen. This is the equivalent to an information dump in a novel. I love character development, but I also want some action while we are getting to know the cast. The film clocks in at just a little over ninety minutes, and more than one-third of the film is just the cast sitting around arguing with each other. Not the best way to pace a horror-thriller.
Once the action finally kicks in, be prepared to be pretty underwhelmed. It is not that the action is lame, just that there’s nothing here we haven’t seen before. There are more than one Bigfoot and they are pissed off that man in encroaching ever so closer to their hunting grounds. The Bigfoot aren’t evil monsters, they are just trying to survive. On the plus side, we don’t get any CGI Bigfoots. On the negative side, the Bigfoots don’t really look all that good. They look more like neanderthal men than creatures. There are also a lot of plot holes in this film as well. For example, when they first moved into the cabin, Michael did nothing but complain about how shitty and flimsy it is. But when the Bigfoots start attacking, these hulking, strong creatures couldn’t even knock down the front door. The action is also very difficult to see because the scenes are so damn dark.
As mentioned above, this isn’t a horrible film, but there really isn’t anything in it that will grab you and keep you glued to the screen. We get the typical humans being hunted by Bigfoot, and that’s pretty much it. If you need a Bigfoot fix, check out Willow Creek and Exists. I recommend this one only for the most diehard Bigfoot fans. Also, this film was a complete waste of actor Bill Oberst Jr.’s talents. Now that is a sin!!
Director: John Portanova (& writer)
Plot: 2 out of 5 stars
Gore: 3.5 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer