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Frogman (2023) Review

In 1999, while driving through Loveland, Ohio with his parents, 10-year-old Dallas captures the legendary Frogman on video. Twenty-five years later, neither Dallas’ (Nathan Tymoshuk, Teacher’s Lounge, In Harm’s Way) Hollywood dreams nor his life in general have turned out as he planned.

After briefly being popular in cryptid circles, his footage has become the butt of jokes by YouTube “experts”, and he’s stuck in a rut and currently living with his sister. After the particularly obnoxious Jeremy J (Chris Canfield) slams his footage, Dallas comes to a conclusion, he’s going back to Loveland to get irrefutable proof of the creature’s existence and prove that he didn’t fake the original sighting.

Accompanying him on this journey is his cameraman Scotty (Benny Barrett, The Great War, Tuscaloosa) and Amy (Chelsey Grant, Scare Package, V/H/S/85). Dallas has long had a crush on Amy and is about to leave for Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. So this is also a last hurrah for the trio of friends.

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Director Anthony Cousins (The Bloody Ballad of Squirt Reynolds, When Susurrus Stirs) and co-writer John Karsko (One Night Stand, Play Dirty) follow the same basic formula as the typical found footage film, but make a major improvement which makes it easier to sit through. There’s still the scenes in the car on the drive to their destination, but the characters act like actual friends rather than constantly bickering with each other. The tension in the early scenes isn’t that they’re going to kill each other, but whether Dallas and Amy will finally get together.

It’s not until they’ve final reached Loveland, and it’s touristy tributes to the creature, that Frogman starts to really turn sinister. The trio’s questions and poking around seem to rub some of the locals the wrong way, leading to a run in with Sheriff Rhodes (Michael Paul Levin, I Am Not a Serial Killer, Scare Package II: Rad Chad’s Revenge). I don’t want to give too much away, but this is where the film stops being The Blair Frog Project and becomes something closer to The Shadow Over Loveland. And that makes for a much better final act than simply wandering through the woods until the camera’s battery dies.

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The plot twists in the last act aren’t the only pleasant surprises Frogman has for the viewer. While films like this tend to either offer a brief glimpse of their monster or make it almost impossible to see. While Cousins does use camera shakes and image glitches, we get several well realized looks at the title creature as well as its magic wand. Yes, I said magic wand, and no, that’s not a dick joke. Do frogs even have dicks?

Getting back to the film, Something more important than the effects, though, is the way Frogman’s creators develop the plot and the characters. Found footage as a genre is full of underdeveloped and unlikable characters. Here, the leads are relatable people with enough development that we can understand them and the choices they make. And, like the writing, the performances here are well above what we’ve come to expect in films like this. It really has to be if you want people to believe there’s a humanoid frog wreaking havoc in the woods, even if the creature supposedly does exist.

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Frogman is a fun take on both the found footage and the cryptid genres, with some Lovecraftian elements thrown in for good measure. You may not croak from fright, but you’ll have a good time watching it. There’s already talk of a sequel, and I hope Cousins and Karsco hop to it and get it made.

Frogman will be released to Digital Platforms on March 8th. The filmmakers plan to release it on Blu-ray and DVD, you can check the film’s Instagram account for announcements.

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