The Bigfoot Trap (PANIC) Ensnares Impressive Psychological Creature Feature Debut
Title: The Bigfoot Trap
First Non-Festival Release: TBD
Director: Aaron Mirtes
Writer: Aaron Mirtes
Runtime: 85 Minutes
Starring: Tyler Weisenauer, Zach Lazar Hoffman, Andy Kanies
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
This film’s review was written after its screening at the Panic Film Festival in 2023.
People can go on the internet and say anything if they have enough money to pay for a blog, video camera, or ad campaign on social media. What happens when the “crazy person” online actually is telling the truth?
Josh (Tyler Weisenauer) works for a media company and hosts his own show where he pokes fun at passionately stupid people on the internet. He is sent to interview Red Wilson (Zach Lazar Hoffman), a man who is trying to prove that Bigfoot exists. Reluctant, Josh ultimately decides to pay him a visit and learn more about his state-of-the-art trap designed to ensnare a Sasquatch.
Unique and riveting, The Bigfoot Trap blends psychological horror with sasquatch thrills in a grounded yet memorable way.
From the beginning, it is obvious that The Bigfoot Trap is going to be something special. Where most Bigfoot films involve some sort of camping or cabin retreat, The Bigfoot Trap eschews that in favor of centering the action on the trap meant to catch it. Only, in The Bigfoot Trap it serves other purposes as well. The trap itself is an ingenious way of taking the action off the far-beaten path in a realistic manner and putting in-universe reasons to remain. This is even before the other plot devices redirect to it time and again. There is beauty in its simplicity, which allows for different kinds of interactions between characters and monsters than most other Sasquatch feature films.
Unlike many bigfoot films before it, The Bigfoot Trap focuses on the human element to maximize scares without leaving out the goods. It can be easy to go about a creature feature by picking out the monster and creating a contrived manner for a bunch of two-dimensional characters to be slaughtered by it. The Bigfoot Trap takes a long-revered cryptid and features it in a smart manner that subverts expectations but gives all the trappings for it to land on the very small list of successful Bigfoot horror films. The dynamic clearly falls more into man vs man, as Red and Josh play a game of wits with one another to determine their best out in the situation.
Perhaps one of the coolest aspects of The Bigfoot Trap, Red operates as the antagonist without truly falling into cheesy villain tropes. Red is a tough shell to crack, and it is clear to Josh that he has gone through a lot in his life. As things continually go south for Red as the events of The Bigfoot Trap ensue, he begins to behave more erratically. While his actions could prove everything wrong about him, Red is more calculated about what his best-case scenarios are and realistic with the outcomes. These traits wouldn’t make sense with someone truly insane but instead someone who was driven off the edge. The distinction is important, and even Josh recognizes this as he comes face to face with the reality that Bigfoot is real. This doesn’t change the fact that Red does many terrible things but the layers to his character make him more sympathetic despite everything making him a more compelling antagonist.
Josh’s characterization also finds itself deviating from the script typically found in B-movies or commentary laced films trying to make a point. From the beginning, Josh is presented as a fish-out-of-water city boy aiming to make another viral video to propel his career forward. The audience learns that this is not what he truly cares for, as he has a background in more grounded journalism. Throughout his ordeal, he doesn’t learn the error of his ways by suddenly realizing he is playing with another human’s life. He knows this already. Instead, Josh’s journey is about rediscovering his passion rather than “doing the right thing.” This is a nice character arc that parallels the film’s firm stance against cyberbullying without making it too over-the-top.
Beyond its compelling story and characters, The Bigfoot Trap is simply a fun and tense film. The film is structured in a way that makes it truly unpredictable at times, which is refreshing in a subgenre that follows worn out beats. Even before introducing a real monster, The Bigfoot Trap is tense and claustrophobic as the humans wage war against each other using their wits and will to live. Once Bigfoot is introduced, things take on a more classic horror approach but still builds dread in a grounded manner.
Unlike many films in its subgenre, The Bigfoot Trap aims to differentiate itself from the expected. Strong character development, writing choices, and methods of building tension make this indie horror a welcome addition to the cannon. Anchored by both Tyler Weisenauer and Zach Lazar Hoffman, as well as writer/director Aaron Mirtes, plenty of great talent went into making this film special. Keep an eye out for this one to hopefully emerge from the festival circuit and grace your screen at home swiftly.
Overall Score? 7/10