Monday, 13 June 2016

Stomping Ground (2014)



Stomping Ground DVD cover*** Written for BCRising.com. This review may contain cryptozoology spoilers ***


A young Chicago couple Ben and Annie return to Annie's small North Carolina hometown, bumping into some of her old friends they embark on an impromptu Bigfoot hunt which threatens their relationship and lives.

I love a good Bigfoot film, the ones though with blood and guts, there's been a spate of the recently, like shark films and creature features they're a minefield in terms of quality ranging from Eduardo S├ínchez's Exists to (Syfy, enough said) Bigfoot. Director Dan Riesser's Stomping Ground, is a low budget surprisingly good traditionally shot Bigfoot film. While the camera work is a little rough in places, it benefits from an on location shoot. To drum up the film's saleability to horror hounds Evil Dead's Theresa Tilly appears very briefly. We get some dead bodies, a severed finger, a severed head and a pretty good Bigfoot costume (no rubbish CGI, hooray).

John Bobek's city boy Ben and Tarah DeSpain's Annie are strong enough to carry the film as their relationship is tested. For a low budget film the acting excels. Jeramy Blackford, is notable as Paul and gives performance (akin to Eric Balfour's Brad in Blackfoot Trail killer bear feature) as Annie's former boyfriend, which prompts some tension between him and Ben. Justin Giddings is amusing enough and plays local Bigfoot expert Jed. J. Michael Radtke's visual Bigfoot effects work better from behind and in the shadows, with the bright showdown stealing some impact and effect.

There's the expected Deliverance jokes and references to Wrong Turn, writers Riesser and Andrew Genser's script works best when it avoiding pop culture references, to their credit they give Annie enough back-story throughout without dropping everything in the first five minutes and the knocking, den building, hair and calls remind you it's a Bigfoot film. The extremely long build up struggles to hold attention with the Bigfoot segments coming late in the latter half of the third act. The ego-stroking, chest-beating competition between Ben and Paul gets a little repetitive objectifying Annie. Stomping Ground is more interesting when they're talking about local history, drinking moonshine, playing games and being attacked.



At 80 minutes it feels longer than it is, tonally Riesser's offering doesn't hold up comedy wise to be another Tucker and Dale versus Evil, there's also not enough Sasquatch focus and gory action set-ups to fully satisfy horror fans. That said, it's a commendable independent film effort and certainly worth checking out especially if you're a Bigfoot lover.

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