Assault of the Sasquatch (2009) - When a heartless, callous bear poacher captures a Sasquatch with plans to sell it to a big game collector he is sidetracked by two things; Getting arrested for poaching and the beasts desire to get revenge on him. Terry Drake, played with piss and vinegar by Kevin Shea, can't believe his luck when poaching in the state park for bear, he tranquilizes a real life Bigfoot. Hopes of a big score are interrupted by game officers Krystle Morin (Christina Santiago) and Ryan Walker (Greg Nutcher). Arrested and his truck containing the sleeping creature confiscated all is brought to the run down police station in a even more run down part of the city. When the creature wakes and starts hunting for Drake no one in the police station or the city is safe.
This low budget effort from the production company Synthetic Cinema International of Hartford CT. A small company that looks to be expanding beyond the horror markets from the look of their website. Written by John Doolan whose other films take a bit of a beating in the imdb ratings attempts to write a complete compelling story of a captured Sasquatch with a score to settle. This film, his second credit as writer fills in the characters and plot giving back story and depth but with some happenstance that is hard to believe. Still working and producing is what it is all about and although a bit clunky the script gives the Director Andrew Gernhard something to start with. Both appear to be part of the Synthetic group and although the film we are discussing is not the best it is part of a growth process for the company.
The cast of characters are attempted to be drawn with depth but some of the interconnected back stories are too clunky and amazing coincidences. Ryan who left the police force ten years earlier after he had a personal encounter with crime. His wife is killed in a robbery by one of the thugs, Talan Colletti (Alex Exum) but Ryan arrives in time to see Talans's brother holding the knife and shoots him dead. Ryan's daughter Jessica witnesses the events and both she and her father are damaged by the trauma. Giving up his life as a cop Ryan spend the next ten years hiding as a park ranger not wanting to ever expose his daughter to the horrors of police work again. Now this back story is all good as it is but unfortunately the fantastic coincidence of Talan being arrested the same night that Drake is makes for an unlikely opportunity for Ryan and talon to finish some business ten years in the making. For Talan its the opportunity to get revenge on the killer of his brother and for Ryan a chance to get past the trauma that has racked his life for a decade also get some revenge.
The film played more as a horror action film than straight up horror also takes a bit from its effectiveness. The creature suit filled by Jason Crisoulo is not very impressive and by showing it too much lessened the scary factor considerable. Often times it just seemed like a man in a guerrilla suit. It could have been a much more effective if the director had used less full shots of the creature, more shadow and tense build ups. When he did it was very effective but when the monster is not great looking the full shots did not work as well. In general it is probably a good idea, that when the Monster in a monster movie is not a kick ass example that the film maker should probably use less light and leave it to the audiences imagination to fill in the blanks.
In some ways it seemed that the film was not sure what it wanted to be. Set up in some ways as a horror film in its lighting and some of the music it had the gore effects and a few scares. It was also though an action film, an "Assault on Precinct 13" with a Bigfoot. The characters are put in the position of having to fight off the creature and survive the night. Then there was a comedy aspect particularly with the characters of Don (Shawn C. Phillips) and George (Hank Torrance) two Bigfoot hunters who happen upon the creature and capture some video. So the whole film seemed to lack a solid direction. Normally the character stories would drive the film forward but since the main one of Ryan and Talan has absolutely nothing to do with the Sasquatch somehow it is not that driving force.
So left with the Monster looking for Drake with a desire to kill him we have a film without a great main plot.
The viewing experience of this film is that it lacks congruency. Whether the themes are not put together well enough or the transitions between scenes are too harsh, there is something not quite letting the film flow well. A discussion could be had about whether the dialog flows or are the actors failing. It is hard to say with this film, some of the acting is believable but there are many characters that are just caricatures, the silly Bigfoot hunters Don and Jameson are clowns, the salty poacher Drake, and the bad girl reformed by the cop Amy Steel (Andrea Sáenz) as well as the bad to the bone antagonist Talan. They serve their purposes but none are totally filled out and each has scenes that are not realistic. Amy has a great scene well played with a spark in her eye where she faces down Sasquatch with a riot shield and a switch blade. Although Amy through acting of Sáenz, displays a strong embrace of the scene it makes her more a super hero thus belittling her later emotional scene with the cop who adopted her. It is a shame because some of these smaller characters seem to be the better actors. Although this writer is no expert these characters were easier to connect to than the main ones. It is still hard to say exactly why the connection is not there but it is not.
Watched in two parts, the first with my 22 year old daughter, she asked me to turn it off saying it was "terrible". Raised in a generation of glossy big budget features she seldom can get into low budget films. A different experience for this writer who grew up in the VHS revolution where DIY horror was readily available and appreciated. This movie does not get a recommendation from this blog. Not horror enough, not big budget enough to be a true action film, and not totally embracing the humor it payed at. Still Soreport Movies does like to view these low budget films and although not recommended for you we do not mind this fair.