Abominable (2006) - Looking at the IMDB its hard to believe that this wonderful little film is only rated 5.1 stars of 10. This film although not perfect but a great example of how to do a small budget BBB (Blood, Breasts and Beasts, as Joe Bob Briggs says) film. One part Rear Window, one part monster movie it is a great little adventure with cool creature and a couple really great death scenes. It is a story of Preston Rogers (Matt McCoy) broken both physically and emotionally by a climbing accident. Forced by a unhelpful therapist back to the scene of the trauma to reconcile his feelings. Traveling with a drunkard male nurse, Otis (Christien Tinsley) Preston confined to a wheel chair is pretty sure it is a bad idea to return to the place his wife died. Otis not supportive or even nice is more of a hindrance to recovery than a help. When an outside unexpected danger arrives he finds the courage to overcome his limitations and survive. Writer/director Ryan Schifrin does a good job creating a claustrophobic and scary film where the hero fights the powerless feelings, to fight back and ultimately reconcile his past as well as his physical limitations to survive.
The setup as in Rear Window is a handicapped man sees danger from his window and has to figure out a way to intervene. Preston soon after arriving is left alone and while checking out the five newly arrived women next door spies what seems like a creature in the woods. Too far away to easily interact with the bachelorette party Preston find creative ways to get their attention. Too many stairs to get down to them he is stuck watching from afar while the danger closes in. The women Amanda (Haley Joel), C.J.(Karin Anna Cheung), Michelle (Natalie Compagno), Karen (Ashley Hartman) and Tracy (Tiffany Shepis) are soon to be the focus of what is described as larger than a Bigfoot, more like a abominable snowman but more fierce. Certainly looking like a Bigfoot the man in the suit, Michael Deak is a towering six foot six with animatronic head was well over seven feet. Preston is somewhat but not completely helpless saving them.
Early in the film Karen while outside trying to make a phone call is taken by the beast and Preston tries to find a way to tell the police in a way they will believe. Preston trapped in his chair sees through his binoculars the events and threat next door and must figure out a way to intervene. Otis a selfish and unhelpful man acts as a obstacle to Preston adding more conflict and issues to deal with.
Film maker Schifrin recognized the limitations of the rear window approach and made the decision to expand from the one site to include a couple other scenes that add depth to the film. First is farmer Hoss (Rex Linn) and his wife Ethel (Dee Wallace) having a frightening experience with the creature when it kills an animal on their farm. A good opening to the film that could have been a body count enhancer but surprisingly it isn't. Later there is talking to store owner Clerk (Jeffrey Combs) who adds context to the accident Preston and his wife experienced. The purposefully quirky performance adds one of those small town characters needed round out the location. The final a wonderfully scary attack scene where Clerk, Hoss and hunter friend Zeigler (Lance Henriksen) is really fun and we get not one but two people dragged off into darkness. Some other scenes at the local police station with Sheriff Halderman (Paul Gleason) and Deputy McBride (Phil Morris) round out a fine crew of character actors in this film. Hiring these great horror icons and solid small part actors makes the film have a gravitas that it would otherwise be lacking.
The music is excellent by renowned Lalo Schifrin it is great from beginning to end. A couple of excellent kills make this film worth the watching all by themselves. The first an amazing bathroom scene as seen from Preston's POV is wonderful and surprising. The second in the climax of the film is a gruesome practical effect, amazing in its bloody sloppiness. There are some things though that are draw backs stopping this film from hitting real highs and instead just making it a solid horror film. The sound is sometimes a bit off with dialog that seems unattached to the person saying it. It could be this is a dvd issue. It could be that it was added later but either way it was at time distracting. Some work arounds that allow Preston to be less passive are silly like the mobile phone white pages he uses on the internet to get Karen's phone number was lame as well as the gimmick of having the internet on the satellite while the phones are hard wired. Somehow too the wireless service is shitty, a way to get Karen off away from the house and in sights of the monster.
Odds and Ends
- Christien Tinsley who plays Otis is an Academy Award Nominated makeup artist earning that nomination for his work on The Passion of the Christ (2004).
- Director Ryan Schifrin was thrilled with the opportunity to have two crane shots in the film, one at the beginining and one at the end. He felt it was important that such a small budget film get a bit of scope to make it seem larger.
- Thinking of Rear Window Schifrin has a Hitchcock moment in the film appearing as the outside gas station attendant for a couple seconds.
- Lead Matt McCoy is shown in photos on the mantle with his real life wife Mary McCoy.
Overall this film is recommended by this blog, even with its flaws it is a decent well plotted monster movie. Not glossy and expensive the filmmaker makes due with what he has. The addition of the supporting cast brings it from a more pedestrian to a fun and fulfilling experience. The crazy ending shouts for a part two that should pick up right where the first ends. So if you are in the mood for a smaller budget well done Bigfoot film try this one out.