Cryptid (2022) Review
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a cryptid as “an animal (such as Sasquatch or the Loch Ness Monster) that has been claimed to exist but never proven to exist.”
Max (Nicholas Baroudi, Dark State, Off the Rails), a former big-city reporter now writing for a paper in East Nowhere Maine reporter for a small-town newspaper somewhere in Maine comes across a police investigation of an animal attack. He’s suspicious of Sheriff Murdoch’s (Chopper Bernet, Sign Man, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines ) claim it was bear. Especially after a second attack claims the lives of a local woman and her dog.
Enlisting the help of Harriet (Ellen Adair, The Unwanted, Trick), the paper’s photographer he soon has evidence that whatever committed them is most definitely not a bear. And there’s a history of similar attacks dating back to the 1950s. A history that some people want covered up.
Writer/director Brad Rego (The Killing of Jacob Marr, The Assemblage of the Crystal Sphere: A D&D Story) follows the pattern of films like Jaws and Alien, teasing the viewer with attacks by the unseen or at best barely glimpsed creature to build up the suspense. Also like those two films, he takes his time telling the story and lets Cryptid run to just a hair under two hours. And that is something of a mixed blessing for the film and its audience.
On the one hand, it allows him to give Cryptid several tense, well-shot attack scenes with cinematographer Kevin Provost (Maine-E-acs, The Overnight) taking full advantage of the darkness and rain to create tension and atmosphere.
It’s also fun watching the two leads try to put the pieces of the puzzle together. They suspect, and the viewer knows, not only that it isn’t a bear but that it’s something reptilian based on tracks and a quick glimpse of an eye. But what kind of a reptile eats humans and lives in New England?
On the other hand, while the interactions between the main characters are well-developed and feel realistic, they’re nothing new. The antagonism between Max and the sheriff over a now-deceased woman, the chemistry between Max, who desperately needs to move on from said woman, and Harriet. And what film like this would be complete without a mayor, in this case, Mayor Winston played by Chris Keating (Boundaries, Hot Mess), with something to hide?
This would be nice detail in a novel, and Cryptid does resemble an early Stephen King book at times, but there’s so much of it that it slows the pace of what should be a leaner, shorter, film. The film never actually drags but there were a few moments where I wished they would just shut up and get on with it. Even when they finally go after the creature everyone stands around jawing for several minutes.
Once they shut up though, Cryptid does deliver a tense final act with plenty of practical creature effects and a bit of gore as the creature is tracked back to its lair where a surprise awaits its pursuers. The reveal of just what the cryptid is will probably be a bit divisive depending on how believable you like your creatures. Personally, I was quite happy with what it turned out to be. Apart from being a nasty, toothy thing I wouldn’t want to see in a dark forest, it gets nostalgia points for giving me flashbacks to a 50s film that was constantly running on TV when I was growing up.
Cryptid is, when all is said and done, an above-average creature feature that was just a good edit away from reaching its full potential. Rego ends the film with an obvious setup for what sounds like a great sequel, let’s hope he finds a good editor at its scriptwriting stage.
Cryptid was released to VOD and Digital platforms earlier this year. It comes to DVD on February 7th. You can check the film’s Facebook page for more information. If you want more monster mayhem, FilmTagger can give you a few suggestions.