The Hubrisween That Wasn’t: H-I

HOAX (2018)

We now return you to the regularly scheduled Hubrisween list of the increasingly distant 2022.

First we have six young people camping out in the wilderness of Colorado, planning to hike up a mountain the next day. After a campfire ghost story, most of them fall to doing what young people do when out in the woods in such movies, ie., various forms of screwing. My notes indicate that writer/director Matt Allen had studied his slasher movies well, because that’s certainly the vibe here. Then the IMDb trivia page informs me that at least two pieces of dialogue were directly lifted from slasher movies aaaaand now I’m really not sure how to feel about this.

Anyway, I’m fairly certain that you know all this premarital sex will end in tragedy, as the mangled bodies of five of those concupiscent cannon fodder will be later discovered, with the sixth still missing. A photo from a wrecked drone showing a furry black foot leads authorities to claim it was a bear attack.

Enter Rick Paxton (Ben Browder), a failed TV producer who hopes to get a documentary series out of the incident which will salvage his career. As he points out to an executive, the furry foot definitely has toes, but not claws. Therefore, the creature responsible for the carnage is Bigfoot, and he wants to take a crew to the site to get proof.

Paxton hires a young primate specialist (Cheryl Texiera), and the father of the still-missing girl (Max Decker) as a guide. Brian Thompson is along as an ex-Marine security guard, as well as a cryptozoologist (Schuyler Denham) and a diva-esque on-air personality, Bridgette (Shoshana Bush). Rounding out the crew is Rick’s assistant Denny (Brian Folkins) and a cameraman out of his depth (Hutch Dano).

Things will start going wrong pretty immediately. The cryptozoologist disappears while checking trail cameras, and the search for him turns up a cave with intestines hanging from the ceiling and lots of dead animal parts. Bridgette meets up with something in the woods that breaks her leg and Rick refuses to call for Search and Rescue because it’s the fourth of July the helicopter might scare off whatever-it-is they’re searching for.

And so it goes until the big pay-off, which torpedoed the movie for me. As I worship at the altar of Your Mileage May Vary, I’ll employ the ever-popular Invisible Spoiler: Guys, it was kind of refreshing and radical when Bone Tomahawk did it in 2015, but plonking our surviving cast members into the third act of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre did not sit well with me at all. Once again, Allen knows his slashers, as this segment pulls out all the stops and is properly horrific – but dammit, I wanted a Bigfoot movie, not The Hills Have Eyes Vol. 15.

There. Hoax had some other minor things that bugged me, like the camera being woefully inadequate to a TV production, the lack of a sound man, blah blah blah but those were, as I said, minor – things I would have ignored had I been given a better-executed story. As it is, it gets pulled this way and that, trying to accommodate that disastrous third act and still make us think there’s a cryptid out there.

Not poorly-made at all. In fact, everything is done well enough to make me a little more annoyed. By now you know if you’re interested or not, but this isn’t a recommendation from me.

In the Woods (1999)

So firefighter Alex Kerwood (DJ Perry) is on the outs with his wife because of his drinking. There’s also a serial killer on the loose known for leaving severed fingers as a calling card. But never mind that, the Chief (Tim Jeffrey) takes Larry out to a piece of wooded property that he “married into”, hopefully to give Larry a good talking to. Except they find a burial mound (complete with wooden cross), and the Chief wants to dig it up because it might provide a clue to the local disappearances.

This is the sort of fractured decision-making that is going to be the norm in In the Woods, so get used to it. Larry and the Chief find nothing pertinent to the killings in the mound, but rather a burlap sack holding a monstrous horned skull. Then they hear something stirring in the woods, freak out, and get chased back to their truck by something unseen, which means they never get to see the abandoned skull starting to smoke.

Of course, Larry and the Chief get drunk out of their minds, leading to Larry’s wife leaving him, which is just as well, because now something is leaving bloody body parts at his house. So now the cops are very interested, but unfortunately every time Larry gets a cop to believe him, the something kills the cop. Then something else kills more cops and, at over an hour of run time, plops some exposition into Larry’s mind.

The skull-thing that’s ruining Larry’s life? Part of an army of killing machines created by sorcery for some long-past war. Larry handled the skull, so it thinks Larry is its master and keeps leaving bloody tribute for him. The Something Else? It killed the skull thing originally, and now wants to kill it again. There. Easy.

So Larry lures skull boy into the woods for some other plan and the something else kills it, and Larry lives happily ever after because apparently the FBI believed him about monsters killing their agents and ripping off his wife’s arm.

You always hope you might find a hidden gem when panning through older, very lesser-known movies, and sometimes you do. Other times you discover, well, there’s a reason it’s lesser known.

Rah I’m a monsta

The script’s not terrible, but it is full of dialogue that looked really good on paper but just doesn’t sing when put in the mouth of actors. Our two monsters aren’t exactly prize-winners either, and the skull-killer for some reason kept reminding me of something from a Gumby short. That skull prop, though, is totally sweet.

I’ve seen worse. But I’ve also seen much, much better.


  1. Great stuff!

  2. Great to read you again.

  3. Great to read you again. Hope things get better.

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