Bigfoot is as much of an American institution as Mickey Mouse and apple pie. The subject of books and reality shows, the monster is instantly recognizable. It comes as no surprise there have also been many movies about the elusive creature. Hoax is a unique take with strong characters. Unfortunately, it’s erratic tone prevents it from being better than average.
Hoax starts off with six young people on a camping trip. They are all mysteriously and violently killed. Some time later, a reporter decides he is going to take a team up to the same mountains. His goal is to find Bigfoot. When things take a dangerous turn, the group begin to wonder who can be trusted.
It is usually a bad thing when a film is filled with stereotypes. Horror movies are one of the exceptions. Character tropes are so accepted in the genre, they are beyond criticism. It is more of a pleasant surprise than an expectation to see a horror movie do something different with its characters. Hoax is filled with stereotypical characters with only slight changes. The bullying jock is a desperate would be television personality. The popular mean girl at school is a popular mean reporter. There is a pothead (cryptozoologist) and the nice jock (ex Marine). The troubles of the father and intelligent final girl are par for the course.
Even better, every character is an extreme stereotype. They are more than the cardboard cut outs usually seen. Each person is over the top. (In characterization, not in performance.) It ends up making Hoax much more enjoyable. Rick is perfect as the arrogant ass while the troubled father is played with even more emotion than expected.
It is unfortunate the cast sometimes has such odd dialogue to work with. Some scenes like the pampered reporter who is forced to rough it and decides to wear a shirt that says #NoFilter. are funny. Unfortunately, most things will leave no impression on the audience. When the dialogue does stick out, it is never in a good way. It is one thing for a movie to be filled with boring or cheesy lines. Some films can even find charm in using nonsensical dialogue. Then, there are movies like Hoax. Certain lines are obviously intended to have a deeper profound it. Instead They come off as goofy and completely out of place.
Pacing is also an issue in a Hoax. This is a movie about a group of people who have possibly seen a potentially murderous Bigfoot. The plot progresses the mystery well. It only makes sense tension would follow. For whatever reason, there is not any. The characters, setting, and premise are all well done. The combination of everything does not convey the necessary emotion. Basically the pace is too slow for the story it is trying to tell.
Another issue is the movie never seems to know what it wants to be. At times it is found footage, other times it will be a methodical thriller before it switches gears again and because he straight up slasher. It is very jarring for the audience and none of it meshes well. This is most evident in the finale. After a wonderful first reveal of Bigfoot, things understandably turns chaotic. There is still a slight sense of mystery, but it is now for a different reason. This newfound interest quickly dissipates when Hoax becomes torture porn. It is an odd twist that makes no sense and culminates in a somewhat clever ending that has no impact.
Hoax should have been a better picture. It has all the ingredients for a memorable and unique horror film. Unfortunately, poor scripting, uneven pacing, and a lack of direction end up overshadowing its finer moments. An American classic like Bigfoot deserves better.
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