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STUDIO: Synthetic Cinema
RATED: Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 1 hour 25 minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES: NA
Assault on Precinct 13… with 100% more Sasquatch.
Kevin Shea, Greg Nutcher, Sarah J. Ahearn
Director: Andrew Gernhard
Writer: John Doolan
Drake (Shea) is a seedy bear poacher who accidentally snares Sasquatch – a sasquatch? – in a trap. As bad luck would have it, just as Drake has loaded the hairy brute into his truck, he gets pinched by a park ranger (Nutcher), who inadvertently brings the Squatch back to civilization while confiscating Drake’s truck. As further bad luck would have it, the ranger’s college-aged daughter (Ahearn) and the thug who murdered the ranger’s wife years ago, also end up at the same lonely precinct as Drake and his cargo. Soon Squatchie vengeance is unloaded on the precinct and its motley inhabitants, and the ranger and his daughter have more than one villain to fend against. *Bigfoot guitar solo*
Following in the Bigfootsteps (sorry) of 2006’s Abominable, Assault of the Sasquatch now effectively cements a wacky subset of the Bigfoot horror subgenre: remakes of classic films featuring a bloodthirsty Bigfoot. (Quite possibly the most conceptually amazing subgenre in cinema history.) While AOTS’s “Assault on Precinct 13 with Bigfoot” never quite reaches the gonzo genius of Abominable‘s “Rear Window with Bigfoot,” it certainly isn’t for lack of trying. For a little movie AOTS has big ambitions.
Assault of the Sasquatch (formerly titled Sasquatch Assault) is Synthetic Cinema’s follow up to the surprisingly decent Banshee!!!, and again it shows that the boys over at Synthetic know how to put together a no-budget direct-to-DVD film.* Where other filmmakers at this end of the pool tend to error towards soft-core porn and gratuitous yet unimpressive gore, Synthetic errors on the side of story and action. Overloading on characters and keeping the pacing crisp, even in the moments where AOTS left me under-whelmed it never left me bored (which is big for a film like this). Synthetic also has a great grasp of how to integrate computer FX to enhance the film, and they have some real talent in this department; almost all the kills are executed using CG – with pleasing results though. They also have grizzled silver-haired Kevin Shea (one of the many actors they like to re-use in their films), who will no doubt become a cult favorite soon if he keeps this pace up. Shea has by far the best character in the film and enjoyably chews the scenery with every chance.
Poacher. Sasquatch Hunter. Nose Picker.
But I’m not trying to give the movie a hand-job here. It has plenty of problems too. While our two leads (Nutcher and Ahearn) are significantly better than the two atrocious leads in Banshee!!!, Synthetic’s biggest handicap continues to be acting. It isn’t that the acting is terrible, so much as unpolished, which left the big dramatic moments feeling student-filmy. The movie also features youtube film critics Don and Murph in a non sequitur subplot as two hapless boobs trying to capture Squatcho on camera. Funny at first, the film has about five too many scenes with these characters and they become exponentially more and more obnoxious (although this does make their eventual deaths quite fabulous). A little of these two goes a long way, and it almost feels like they’re being used to pad the film’s length. The film also starts to feel a little unfocused as we push towards the end and blah blah whatever – enough film studies shit…
Let’s talk some Squatch!
I will go on the record here – I love the Bigfoot subgenre. I love that there is a Bigfoot subgenre. It’s so awesomely stupid and fabulous. Part of what I find so entertaining about Bigfoot movies is that you can’t really make Bigfoot scary. The creature is inherently ridiculous. AOTS is fully aware of this. Possibly too aware of it. This is the kind of Sasquatch that steals pizza from a stoner and oogles a naked chick in the shower but doesn’t kill her (though he does stomp the shit out of her cute dog, which is great). Tonally the Sasquatch portions of the movie are essentially a feature length, R-rated version of Jack Link’s “Messing With Sasquatch” ad campaign. Which, depending on your tastes, isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
at least inappropriately molested or something. Get your shit together, bro, you can play with the dog later.
All-in-all, the film needed a stronger protagonist to really hit its mark; anytime Shea or the Squatch aren’t on camera the film suffers. That said, I still enjoyed the film and would definitely recommend it to any Bigfoot fans or anyone looking for a fun antidote to Saw knock-offs and awful soft-core horror parodies.
Assault of the Sasquatch is currently available on demand at Amazon (also available to purchase as a digital download).
Dead end for Don & Murph’s Murph.
* The only other Synthetic film I’ve seen is their first endeavor, Predator Island, which I shut off about 1/3 in (too unripe for me). I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt that they’re continually improving.