Austin 2019 Review: THE VICE GUIDE TO BIGFOOT, In Search of Post-Modern Laughs

Ben Emond co-wrote and stars in the paranormal comedy, directed by Zach Lamplugh.

Managing Editor; Dallas, Texas (@peteramartin)
Austin 2019 Review: THE VICE GUIDE TO BIGFOOT, In Search of Post-Modern Laughs

Remember when we thought Bigfoot might be real and/or funny?

The Vice Guide to Bigfoot
The film enjoyed its world premiere at the Austin Film Festival.

Yeah, I was a kid when I thought Bigfoot might be real.

Me and my friends were transfixed by television commercials for Charles B. Pierce's The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972), which purported to tell the true story of a legendary monster in Arkansas, USA. I can't remember if I ever saw it in a movie theater, but the TV ads were probably just as combustible for a kid like me, who only wished monsters would walk down my street in boring suburban Los Angeles.

I'm not sure to what extent adults at the time actually believed in Bigfoot and similar legends, but I have long treasured those and similar beliefs as charming elements in my childhood / early teen memories, easily dismissed as innocent days with no lasting damage done. Bigfoot has continued to pop up in films and TV shows in the decades since; in the past year alone, three animated films (Smallfoot, Missing Link, Abominable) have revolved around Bigfoot-type creatures, alternately identified as Yeti or Sasquatch.

The potential appeal to children is obvious; big, furry, lovable creatures on the big screen are eternal. (Hello, Chewbacca!) The challenge has been a bit different for adult viewers. After all, a huge legendary creature may remain a credible threat in horror movies, but what's relevant about an old myth for millennial audiences?

In The Vice Guide to Bigfoot, Zach Lamplugh and Brian Emond apply a comic approach to the legend. Playing a version of himself, Emond stars as a Vice veteran who has tired of the job, eternally hunting for clicks and/or video views in a futile attempt to pursue a fulfilling career as a journalist and/or on-air talent.

Teamed with his friend and cameraperson, Emond heads off to Georgia on his latest assignment with an air of resignation. Tasked with reporting on Bigfoot, he is dismayed to realize that his intended subject is, frankly, an idiot, and seriously considers quitting on the spot.

Convinced by his cameraperson to continue, Emond becomes increasingly frustrated by the writer and supposed Bigfoot expert, who stumbles around the foothills and fails to demonstrate any insights, except that Jurassic Park left a big, if unacknowledged, impact upon him. Things eventually change, though, and Emond becomes a Semi-True Believer, or, at least, someone who thinks there might, possibly, maybe, be something to this particular mythical legend.

The film is intended as a comedy, and here I must acknowledge that my sense of humor was not tickled at all by the dialogue or the situations. Many scenes stretch ever onward in search of a humorous angle. Much of this I can attribute to my own mistaken expectations. The film is not about the legend itself, as I had hoped, but instead about a reporter in search of a direction in his life.

Lamplugh and Emond wrote the original script together, and Lamplugh directed; while nothing in the film struck me (personally) as clever or amusing, I understand and appreciate what the filmmakers were aiming to do. As a film, it's easy to watch; it reflects the sort of seasoned camerawork that would be expected from an experienced and professional Vice camera operator and producer, with none of the faux-amateur jerkiness that continues to plague found-footage films.

Emond is well-experienced as a comedian and video sketch artist, while Lamplugh has made a number of shorts. In short bursts, the intentions of individual scenes probably play better. At feature length, though, the film wore me down. Your mileage may vary.

Summing up: Help yourself.

For more information about the Austin Film Festival, visit the official site.

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Austin Film FestivalBen EmondUSZach Lamplugh

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