Everyone loves a good creature feature. Whether it’s killer sharks or giant insects, monster movies make for great rainy afternoon viewing. In spite of its expansive catalogue of potential movie monsters, cryptozoology hasn’t made much of a dent in the horror genre. While there are Bigfoot movies, they’re largely forgettable low-budget offerings. Personally, the cyborg Bigfoot from that Six Dollar Man episode is still tops in my book. But Justin Lee’s Big Legend looks to change Bigfoot’s reputation in horror.
It was supposed to be a beautiful weekend camping getaway in the Pacific Northwest. Ex-soldier, Tyler, brought his girlfriend, Natalie, and even proposed to her. But their trip ended in tragedy. In the middle of the night, an unseen growling figure ripped Natalie from the tent. Her body was never found. After spending a year in a psychiatric facility, Tyler returns to the same isolated woods, determined to discover what really happpened to Natalie.
Big Legend Makes Effective Use of Its Isolated Setting
First, Big Legend is clearly a low budget indie movie. But writer and director Justin Lin works extremely well with his limited resources. Though I had low expectations going into Big Legend, I was pleasantly suprised by Lin’s economical filmmaking. Lin makes good use of the isolated setting and creates a surprising amount of atmosphere. For most of the movie, it’s just one or two characters onscreen with minimal dialogue. To his credit, Lin fills the quiet moments with just enough dread to keep the movie from getting dull.
Big Legend does feel like it missed an opportunity to fully embrace the horror in its concept.
Aside from a couple of jumps, Big Legend falls a little shy of scary. Lin includes a few unsettling images with a bit of suspense. But there’s no one scene that’s likely to have you on the edge of your seat. In addition, Big Legend does feel like it missed an opportunity to fully embrace the horror in its concept. Despite casting its Bigfoot as an aggresssive, feral beast, Lin keeps the gore quotient to a minimum. It’s a bit of a misstep. When Tyler stumbles into Bigfoot’s feeding ground, you can’t help but feel like something’s missing.
Big Legend’s Bigfoot is Hit and Miss
Lin adopts a time-honoured approach to low-budget ‘monster movie’ making. For most of the movie, he keeps Bigfoot in the shadows. Big Legend teases, offering limited glimpses here and there. By and large, it’s an approach that works within the movie’s limited budget. Big Legend’s monster won’t spark eye-rolls or snickers. Conversely, Bigfoot isn’t likely to spark much fear either. What’s missing from Big Legend is some innovation. Even one quick full-scale shot with something in the scene to give perspective of the monster’s size would have helped. It’s a little hard to believe that a 2018 movie can’t improve upon a 1970’s television show’s effects.
Spotty Dialogue Saved by Decent Performances
If Big Legend has a major area that needs improvement, it’s the dialogue. No, Lin’s screenplay is far from awful. But the dialogue is occasionally a little clunky. Fortunately, the performances are better than expected for this type of low-budget indie horror. Kevin Makely’s ‘Tyler’ is appropriately stoic and avoids coming across as too wooden. Despite getting saddled with some of the worst dialogue, Todd A. Robinson acquits himself well in his supoporting role. Both actors leverage enough empathy for their characters to keep audiences invested. A surprise end-of-movie cameo from genre favourite Lance Henriksen is brief but promises what might be a fun sequel.
Never Judge a Movie By Its Poster
If you’re browsing movie options you’re likely to be turned off by Big Legend’s movie poster. Contrary to the cheesy art work in the poster, Big Legend is a surprisingly serious and effective effort. It’s no ‘home run’ by any means, but Lin shows some promise with this directorial effort. Big Legend still isn’t the Bigfoot movie we may want, but it’s a step in the right direction.