REVIEW: Chupacabra Territory
– By LastBoneStands
I’ve made it known in the past that I’m a huge sucker for the “found footage” sub-genre. I’m fully aware that at this point they are mostly loaded with clichés and tend to tread the same grounds as the older, more original films that started this whole thing. Maybe it’s time to amend my opinion, as my tolerance is beginning to wear a bit thin.
Chupacabra Territory is the latest “found footage” film to cross my path. The premise of this film is a group of 4 friends travel into the backwoods of California while filming a documentary on Chupacabra. The area they’ve chosen has a history of Chupacabra sightings, as well as a recent case where a group of campers went missing.
Unfortunately, Chupacabra Territory is over-burdened by clichés, and not the fun, tongue-in-cheek nod to the audience type. Let’s go down the list, shall we? Amateur film-makers documenting spooky goings on. CHECK! Road trip into “the middle of nowhere”. CHECK! Creepy old gas station with strange attendant that warns the group to stay away. CHECK! Group runs into local authority figure (forest ranger) that tells them to stay away, and the warnings are ignored. CHECK! Boobs for the sake of boobs. DOUBLE CHECK!
Another downfall in this film was the characters. I’m not sure whether the blame should be placed on the acting, the writing or both, but most of the characters in this film were either obnoxious, or unrealistic. There is Joe, played by Michael Reed, who is the leader of this expedition. He is the enthusiastic chupacabra fan that is running the show. While not obnoxious, he never came off like a real person. He seemed more like a cookie-cutter version of what someone might think an amateur film-maker would be like. All enthusiasm and high-hopes. Then there is Amber, played by Sarah Nicklin, who is a cryptozoologist, and also a witch and psychic. However, she is only able to access her abilities when charged with sexual energy, so we have a couple scenes where she goes behind a tree to pleasure herself. This is not done in a sexy or comedic manner and seems to be intended as serious. The character Morgan, played by Alex Hayek, is the human equivalent of spoiled milk. He is whiny and obnoxious. There is no clear reason that he was even invited on the expedition as he doesn’t have anything to do with the filming, he doesn’t believe in chupacabra, hates camping and does nothing but complain. The fourth member of the group is the camera man, Dave. He is probably the most human and realistic character in the group, but he isn’t seen or heard much as he is typically behind the camera.
Now, based on those last two paragraphs, one would assume that there is very little to redeem the film. This isn’t entirely true. The idea behind the chupacabra mythology is actually pretty original. These creatures are not just out to eat people and drain them of their blood. There seems to be some sort of virus or disease that puts the victims into a zombie-like state. It also seems that some agency knows about this and has an agent in the woods putting these zomboids down. Unfortunately, we never get the full story on that.
While there were tidbits of good ideas, they were not fleshed out enough and got lost in the cliché narrative of the group of film-makers camping in the woods. The best parts of the story/mythology were only hinted at and given a back seat to the generic story that plays out over the course of 90 minutes.