Nobody in this corner of the woods around Mount St. Helens, in Washington State, wants to acknowledge it. They don’t want to call it by name.
Your fiance got snatched, tent and all dragged off in the dark of night? Your pickup got pounded to pieces?
“Could’ve been a grizzly.”
They haven’t heard the rumbling moans, the knocking in the dead of night in the middle of the endless forest. They haven’t seen skulls dangling from trees. Hell, they haven’t seen the footprints.
“Big Legend” is a slow-footed bigfoot horror tale, a story of an unprovoked attack and the survivor’s guilt that sends the “ex-Special Forces” woodsman Tyler (Kevin Makely, a Bradley Cooper look-alike) black into those forbidding woods “looking for answers.”
Yes, he is armed to the teeth. No, he doesn’t have a cell phone, sparing us the “No bars, NO BARS!” wilderness thriller cliche.
Writer-director Justin Lee has lulled us, almost to sleep, with a sedentary, lovey-dovey prologue as Tyler delivers his “Don’t worry, I’ll protect you” lies to the woman (Summer Spiro) he wants to marry.
Her “If we get eaten, I’m gonna KILL you” is the film’s lone funny line.
Tyler doesn’t want to believe in legends, and spends a year in the psyche ward afterward dealing with his and society’s refusal to accept what he heard — knocking, moans — and saw — rock cairns, a gigantic flash of grey fur in the dark, yanking a tent with the screaming Natalie inside.
But Mom (Adrienne Barbeau) taught him never to leave big questions unanswered. And once he runs into the beer-swilling poacher (Todd A. Robinson), he figures out he’s not crazy after all. The new guy just calls what’s out there “The Big Man.”
“Big Legend” settles into a deadly stalk and a survivalist quest. Guns and military training may not be enough to take down, or evade, “The Big Man” in his own element.
Lee, a screen newcomer with three low-budget pics slated for release this year, manages a few hair-raising moments and stages good attacks and fights. Plotting, dialogue, characterizations and coda would be his weakest skills, at this point.
“Big Legend” delivers “Revenant” scenery and generic monster-in-the-dark fights, but just lumbers along, barely suggesting forward motion at all.
Makely is adequate, but not an arresting screen presence. The script gives no one a moment to shine, though Robinson had a potentially fun cliche to play, the grizzled backwoods sage who calls Tyler “Chief” in between belts from his flask. Pity he couldn’t do more with him.
That’s the over-arching knock on the picture — lack of invention and effort. It’s not enough to pick your setting and select your monster. You’ve got to make more of it, get more human interplay, create more suspense. The odd chill is never enough, not in this crowded horror marketplace, especially if you’re deluded enough to think you’ve got a franchise on your hands.
MPAA Rating: unrated, bloody violence
Cast: Kevin Makely, Summer Spiro, Todd A. Robinson, Adrienne Barbeau, Lance Henriksen
Credits: Written and directed by Justin Lee. A Vega Baby.Sony release.
Running time: 1:28