The Blair Witch Project (1999) - his latest DTV contribution to the canon, Exists (2014), should have been something of a stroll in the park. Yet there's little to recommend in this apparent parody (presumably not its intention) of the genre to which it situates itself. It's a thoroughly ham-fisted affair, from the camerawork to the reveal of the big bad monster. Exists is essentially a found-footage fumbler from a hall-of-famer. The premise is horrendously clichéd: two brothers, Matt (Samuel Davis) and Brian (Chris Osborn), bring three friends out to their uncle's remote cabin in the wilds of Texas.
It's baffling as to why Sanchez allows such poorly-rendered characters into his space. There's the over-sexed alpha couple Todd (Roger Edwards) and Elizabeth (Denise Williamson), Matt's dewy, dutiful girlfriend Dora (Dora Madison Burge), nerdy, camera-prone Brian and tentative leader Matt. They barely fill their roles with the minimum of chemistry and effort (this might be caused by a very wooden script). By the final half-hour their demises seem to be well-earned. If Exists is a parody of horror and found footage, then one could say that The Cabin in the Woods (2012) beat it to the punch; if it's a serious effort, then where did all go wrong? Helmed by Sánchez, one of the progenitors of the found-footage genre, this should have been arable land from which an interesting story could have been cultivated. Sadly, there's precious little about Exists that doesn't feel horribly predictable.
Allie Gemmill | @alliegem
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