Film 1: A Night in the Woods (US 2007 Dir Richard Parry) Richard Parry made the not very good South West 9 back in 2001, a drama set on the streets of Brixton. Ten years later he made his entry into the 'found footage' sub genre, about a trio of hikers who head off into the wilds of Norfolk and spend, you know, a night in the woods. Hang on, I thought, I've seen this before. I even wrote a short review about it for another site, which went something like this:
"A few tips for budding 'found footage' film makers: 1. By the very nature of what you're doing you're ripping off The Blair Witch Project. It isn't necessary to set up bits of your movie that directly copy scenes from the original film. Try to avoid ripped tents (also tents messed about by 'unseen' forces), and senseless screaming (both from your main characters and the 'disembodied screams in the night' variety). 2. Your cast are filming on camcorders. Do not therefore actually film on much better equipment as it spoils the illusion (unless you can disguise the professional camerawork to look like cheap camcorder footage). 3. Never forget who's doing the filming. If there's a scene where all three central characters are being filmed (ie the only ones supposed to be in the movie) and no-one has a camera in their hands, then someone else is filming. This is not good. Same advice applies in the 'action' scenes. 4. To paraphrase Steve Martin in Planes, Trains & Automobiles, have a fucking point to what you're doing. It makes it so much more interesting for the audience. 5. Not a great idea to have lots of different music over the end credits for a 'found footage' movie. The ending's bound to be a bummer. Let silence do the work for you."
Sam and Jason are heading out into the woods to visit Sam's sister and her newly acquired house. But when they get there, no-one's at home. Opting to take a dip in the lake, Jason gets bitten by a leech like creature which then burrows into his leg. Holed up the house, he begins to hallucinate. Sam meanwhile has found her sister, who is dead. And it looks like what killed Sam's sister has plans for Jason.
Lake Fear is quite a chore to watch, and despite David Doucette wanting to make something claustrophobic and unsettling, which is laudable, the movie is just plodding and silly. It also has a terrible soundtrack - I'm assuming the musicians were friends of the director.
Yep, Abominable is pretty, well, abominable maybe too harsh, so I'll go with barely adequate. Despite that title hook, the beast in question is actually Bigfoot The creature itself is an impressive bit of costume and prosthetics (the guy in the suit is Michael Deak, who as well as making special effects behind the camera, is pretty much the go-to guy when you want someone tall in a monster outfit). However the story is pretty hokey. A group of girls from the city take a house in the woods for a hen weekend, watched over - via binoculars - by next-door neighbour, wheelchair bound ex-climber Preston Rogers (played by Matt McCoy in his second Bigfoot film, twenty years after Bigfoot - the Unforgettable Encounter, which of course everyone has forgotten about). When Bigfoot arrives and starts picking off the party-goers, Preston shouts commands at them to help the girls escape. He becomes the hero of the day, eventually rear-ending the beast in his car and trapping it against the tree. However, in the darkness more sets of Bigfoot eyes look on - the story is not yet over.
Neither smart or pacy enough to get by as comedy horror, Abominable limps along rather episodically, only managing a soupcon of excitement towards the end. Most of the genre cast are rather wasted, although Jeffrey Combs should at least be singled out for being almost unrecognisable, dressed up as a backwoods bum.