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Tahoe Joe (2022) Review

When Dillon Brown (Ghost, Split Screen) asked me if I wanted to review the sequel to Tahoe Joe, that reminded me I still hadn’t crossed the original off of my to see list. Well, what better time than now?

Structured as a documentary, Tahoe Joe begins when Michael Rock (Lights Over Montgomery County, Target List) receives an email from Jaylin, the son of his friend Toms Smith. Toma has gone missing while on a camping trip, one in which he hoped to get footage of a local Sasquatch type creature called Tahoe Joe. Not only has nobody been willing to help him find out what happened to his father, he claims the feds have told him to drop the matter.

After consulting with Brown, the two decide to go out into the woods themselves and hire a guide who claims to know what parts of the forest Joe calls home.

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Like many actual documentaries on the subject, Tahoe Joe spends a good bit of time on the setting up of the expedition itself. The motivation is a bit higher stakes than the usual “I want to prove it’s out there” line we hear in the likes of On the Trail of Bigfoot or Sasquatch Among Wildmen, but it’s still quite believable.

Of course, the central part of it is the footage shot by the missing man, and a second video shot by a local hunter. The footage is quite good, and the costume for Tahoe Joe himself looks surprisingly convincing. I say surprisingly because I’ve seen $2000 and $800 given as the film’s budget. That left Brown making the costume in his garage out of a Ghillie suit. Despite being such a low budget and low tech solution, the final results are better than ones I’ve seen in bigger budget films, and certainly better than most CGI Sasquatches.

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The subplot with Toma’s son was about the only misstep the film makes in the first half. His scenes seemed rather pointless, and actually made him look weak. It would have worked better if he had left off camera, communicating with them by email and maybe a video call.

Once they, and their guide Shane (Shane D. Lux) head into the woods in search of Tahoe Joe, the film changes gears with some rather mixed results. Part of the problem is, since the two leads are playing themselves, the viewer knows they’re going to survive. Either that, or the films they’ve done since are part of some elaborate cover up, which given what Jaylin said about the government telling him not to talk about his father’s disappearance, might be the case.

Jaylin

While it never really gets very tense or scary, despite a couple of attempts to build up multiple possible threats, the last half of Tahoe Joe is entertaining. Things don’t go the way you might expect, and by its end it seems to be moving into the territory of films like Bigfoot: The Conspiracy and The Wildman: Skunk Ape. The downside to that is none of it is addressed in the film itself. A lot of questions are raised in the last fifteen minutes, and they’re all left hanging. I’m sure the sequel will address them, but it’s still a frustrating way to end a film.

The other question the sequel will need to answer is how does Tahoe Joe fit into the Cryptid Multiverse along with the Greys: The Nevada Alien Incident segment of Split Screen. That’s an interesting concept in and of itself, and I’m curious to see what the filmmakers do with it. And, given where they’re being filmed, maybe we can get a crossover with the Horror in the High Desert franchise.

Tahoe Joe 2 will be released in late March, so that’s not too much of a problem at this point. And apart from that, it is an enjoyable low budget mockumentary. Best of all, it’s available free to watch on Tubi and other Digital Platforms.

Where to watch Tahoe Joe
Our Score

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