“The Bigfoot Trap”

This movie was screened at Panic Fest.

“The Bigfoot Trap” is a simple story about a man who gets locked inside, well, a Bigfoot trap. It sounds like the makings of a zany comedy, but writer-director Aaron Mirtes‘ film is a tightly-edited thriller that’s surprising, entertaining, and intense.

Josh (Tyler Weisenauer) is a video journalist who makes a living chasing down crazy stories and mocking conspiracy theorists and QAnon types, but he doesn’t feel good about it. He gets paid based on how many clicks he can get rather than offering meaningful news coverage. After his latest piece pokes fun at a Flat Earther, Josh is sent on assignment to the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee to interview a personable hillbilly named Red (Zach Lazar Hoffman) who claims to have designed an escape-proof Sasquatch trap. Josh’s editor wants him to stay and document Red’s attempts to catch Bigfoot, hoping to land another popular viral video and a big payday.

The film starts out as a strange buddy story at first, as the two men quickly realize that they actually like each other. As Red and his brother explain the art of “Squatchin’,” Josh films them with glee. But once the brothers decide to play a joke on him, the situation escalates and the reporter finds himself locked inside the Bigfoot trap with little chance of rescue.

The story works so well because it seems plausible. Josh is in a harrowing predicament and real danger from not only a slightly unhinged man who wholeheartedly believes in a mythical creature, but maybe even from Bigfoot himself. Red’s character is compelling because he genuinely accepts that there is a Sasquatch living in the woods. It’s his sincerity that’s alarming, but also a little charming. It’s also understandable why he reacts to the surprising event the way he does, and why Josh ends up locked in the trap.

The plot of the film would’ve worked well as a comedy, but Mirtes opts instead to take the dramatic thriller route. It’s a far more difficult path than making this a series of jokes and gags, and for that, I give him much respect. Mirtes has a good eye for directing, which keeps the pacing swift. He’s also written a script with an unexpected amount of depth.

There’s a surprising message at the heart of the story, as Josh laments that these folks he covers on the job aren’t total idiots, just sorely misinformed. It’s a reminder that we shouldn’t laugh and mock these people and instead, take a moment to reach out to them. This thematic idea brings “The Bigfoot Trap” full circle and gives the audience a lot to chew on.

By: Louisa Moore

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