Browse a few streaming services – Amazon Prime, Hulu, Tubi – and you’ll notice that there’s a lot of Bigfoot movies. A lot. You may also notice that most of these movies look terrible. It begs the questions – outside of Willow Creek or The Legend of Boggy Creek – is there a good Bigfoot horror movie? After all, Bigfoot is one of the most iconic monsters of crypto-zoology. So why can’t we get a good Bigfoot horror movie? Well, last year’s indie horror movie, Hoax, looked to stand out from the pack of cheap B-movies. So is Hoax the Bigfoot movie you’ve been waiting for? Or is it just like its title implies?
When a teen campers go missing, the site remains spark renewed interest in the legend of Bigfoot. That’s more than enough to pique the interest of a washed-up television producer, Rick Paxton. With ambitions of a hit reality television show, Paxton assembles a crew that includes a reporter, a cryptozoologist, a primatologist, and former marine. But once the crew reach their destination, they soon discover they may get more than what they bargained for.
Hoax Has Too Few of the Requisite B-Movie Charms To Work
With a limited budget, most unfamiliar cast, and straightforward story, Hoax still could have been a fun B-creature feature. Some movies – think Piranha 3D or the Sharknado series – succeeded by openly embracing their silliness. Other monster movies are fun simply because their serious presentation is so at odds with what’s ultimately put up on screen. Did anyone behind the production behind Anaconda really think Jon Voight’s accent was a good idea?
By and large, it’s a bland movie with no scares or suspense. And its Bigfoot is unconvincing, which, for a monster movie, is a big problem.
Unfortunately, Hoax is neither intentionally tongue-in-cheek or deadly serious. In fact, there’s little about the movie that stands out. Things start out with some promise. A campfire scene pays tribute to Friday the 13th Part II, hinting that the movie may have a sense of humour. Moreover, the opening Bigfoot attack shows how Hoax could made its monster work despite budgetary limitations. Yet from that point onward, Hoax lacks any real sense of style. By and large, it’s a bland movie with no scares or suspense. And its Bigfoot is unconvincing, which, for a monster movie, is a big problem.
Hoax Delivers a Twist That Takes Its Title A Little Too Literally
For most of Hoax’s runtime, things hum along as expected. If you have ever watched a creature feature – Anaconda, Boar, Piranha – then you can count off the standard plot points as they unfold. Hoax takes few risks with its premise. Consider the sheer number of bad choices characters make over the course of the movie. Despite discovering a destroyed campsite and hearing strange sounds in the night, characters still venture into the woods alone. In fact, one character’s disappearance doesn’t seem to concern any very much. Like a Scooby Doo cartoon, our heroes still split up. If there’s a ‘monster movie’ handbook, Hoax director Matt Allen definitely had a copy.
In this case, Hoax takes its title seriously and things quickly veer into ugly ‘Torture Porn’ and ‘Hillbilly Horror’ territory.
But then something strange happens. As Hoax hits its third act, the movie goes off script. Way off script. Kudos to Allen and co-writer for Scott Park for trying to inject some surprise. But as M Night Shyalaman fans have learned, not all twists are created equally. In this case, Hoax takes its title seriously and things quickly veer into ugly ‘Torture Porn‘ and ‘Hillbilly Horror‘ territory. It’s a dramatic tonal shift that both feels like a cheat story-wise and an awkward tonal shift. A final parting shot doesn’t help as it pulls the rug out from under its own twist.
Mostly Unfamiliar Cast Tackles Familiar Roles
Not surprisingly, there’s little in the way of star power in this B-movie creature feature. Arguably, Brian Thompson, the group’s ex-marine, may be the most recognizable face. Fans of 80’s action flicks will remember Thompson as the killer from Stallone’s Cobra. He also turned up in the awesomely bad Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. Don’t get sucked in by horror icon Adrienne Barbeau’s (The Fog), top billing. Though it’s not false advertising, it’s certainly misleading. Barbeau shows up in Hoax for all of two minutes or so. And her character has nothing to do with the action that follows.
Don’t get sucked in by horror icon Adrienne Barbeau’s, top billing. Though it’s not false advertising, it’s certainly misleading.
While the rest of the cast are mostly unknowns, no one is particularly good or bad. There’s nothing here that drags the movie down. If Hoax has a problem, it’s the characters, not the performers. Like most of its basic storyline, Hoax’s characters are a checklist of recycle tropes. Whether it’s the greedy, power-hungry character who ignores all dangers for profit or the vapid wanna-be reporter or empathetic scientist, Hoax doesn’t flesh out characters beyond what you might find on a call-sheet.
Hoax a Forgettable, Inoffensive B-Movie
Overall, Hoax is the kind of movie that would have once popped up on Sunday afternoons on cable television. A largely formulaic thriller with few thrills and an unconvincing monster, Hoax is forgettable but inoffensive. If you had nothing better to do, Hoax would pass the time, though its ending would is likely to frustrate. Of course, another of way of looking at it is that the ending may make the movie more memorable than it has any right to be.