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Review: HOAX (2019)

I haven’t done an actual count, but I’m pretty sure the most common subject of the films on the site is Bigfoot. Among them are documentaries, The Back 80, On The Trail Of Bigfoot. Straight up monster movies, Primal Rage, Hunting Grounds. Even the kid’s film, A Wish For Giants. Now add another to the list, Hoax.

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After the brutal killing of a group of young campers, an investigative team ventures into the woods. Their mission, to prove Bigfoot not only isn’t a hoax but was responsible and deliver a hit TV special. They find there is something out there. But it’s far beyond anything they imagined. Director Matt Allen and co-writer Scott Park take this well-worn plot and have considerable fun with it.

Rick Paxton (Ben Browder, Farscape, Stargate SG-1) is determined to resurrect his career at any cost. He assembles a crew that includes a primate specialist, Dr. Ellen Freese (Cheryl Texiera, Bunnyman). A diva of a hostess Bridgette (Shoshana Bush) and combat vet John Singer (Brian Thompson, Cobra, Flight Of The Living Dead) just in case things get rough.

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Of course, they do get rough and cryptozoologist Peter (Schuyler Denham) quickly goes missing. Despite mounting evidence he met a nasty end, the crew continues filming. Rick isn’t going to let a little thing like that stop him. As you can imagine, things soon get much, much worse.

Hoax builds nicely through the first hour, punctuating the crew’s squabbling with bursts of bloody action. Then, as all hell breaks loose in the final act, the script unleashes some nice twists. One of which is a nice reference to a classic piece of grindhouse cinema. I won’t spoil it by saying which film, but it brought a smile to my face and sets up the film’s last surprise nicely. It also allows for some over the top performances, including one from Christopher Soren Kelly (Infinity Chamber, Murder Made Easy).

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Fans of John Carpenter will enjoy the cameo by Adrienne Barbeau (The Fog, Escape From New York) and the score by his frequent collaborator Alan Howarth. Further retro cred is provided by effects man William Munn (The Boogens, Beastmaster) who designed the creature suit. As befits a film with so many old school elements, the gore in Hoax is CGI free.

Hoax is an enjoyable dose of monster mayhem and a film that’s worth seeing. Epic Pictures will release it through their Dread label on August 20th. For those in the Santa Ana area, it will have a run at the Frida Theater. Check for details on its Facebook page.

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