Movie Review: Eaglewalk (2012, Dir. Rob Himebaugh)


What comes to mind when I say Camp Crystal Lake? If you’re a horror movie collector, or even friends with one, (or been to the movies, or own a TV), you’ll know how iconic that location is, and the serial killer it’s synonymous with. Did you know back in 1981 another camp by the name of Eaglewalk was having a similar problem? And, like Jason Voorhee’s old stomping ground, Eaglewalk’s problems started in the past, precisely ten years before when this little shit named Elliot wanted to test the validity of a local legend, one that revolved around the totem pole setup in their camp. It was put there to keep evil forces at bay, but once Elliot takes it down with an ax those “evil forces” rear their hairy heads. A day later a lot of mutilated bodies were found; officials chalked it up to the work of a grizzly that had wondered into camp.

As with most tragedies, the world did not stop spinning, and life went on. It’s now 1981, and to put this in line with Crystal Lake’s bloody history, this is the very summer that Jason Voorhees is avenging his mother’s death. While that is happening another group of kids has returned to Camp Eaglewalk to prepare it for “a summer of fun.” There are five in all, but two of them, Jill and that little shit now all grown up, Elliot, were there that night when that supposed Grizzly tore through their friends.

It’s beyond me why these two would want to return to a place where something so bloody and tragic had happened, but the mind is a funny thing, and in Elliot’s case it’s obvious he needs some kind of closure, or the opportunity to make up for a major error in judgment. Either way he’s there and upon his first meeting with Jill, feigns ignorance and says he doesn’t remember her when she quickly recognizes him.

It’s not until another of the would-have-been “camp counselors” ventures into the decade old ruins of that camp that we learn it wasn’t a grizzly that massacred those kids, but the flesh and blood embodiment of a legend that was ten times more renowned than Jason Voorhees ever was at that time, or ever could be, and we also learn that eight foot tall man-beast Elliot “released” never left the camp.

Things go from worse to really fucked up when some libidinous romping in the lake by the obvious couple of the bunch brings up the body of their Camp Director. And really fucked up also means no one can get out of the camp because a cheap-skate member of said couple didn’t bother to fill the gas tank of the car all. The terrible events that quickly spool out from here on in reduces the remaining four members down to two, Elliot (aka Possible Hero) and Jill (aka Final Girl), but by the time the credits roll only one remains alive and kicking in dawn’s early light.

This flick reminded me a little bit of another movie I recently did a review of, IT’S IN THE BLOOD (2012), and like that film the tragedies that befell those characters didn’t come with explanations and/or directions as to how they can be overcome. Like real life, terrible shit happens, and sometimes it happens fast and vicious and all you can do is try like hell to keep yourself alive for a few seconds more. Same thing here, a squatch decimates a camp and does it again ten years later. Why? Unknown. Is he a psychopath like Jason Voorhees? Maybe. Perhaps that particular “malady” is not confined to humans alone. Anything is possible as to why it has become murderous, and it’s ambiguousness works for it.

EAGLEWALK even works in a nod to another Killer Bigfoot flick, 1980’s NIGHT OF THE DEMON. In the opening credits of that film you see an impression of squatch’s foot in the mud fill up with the blood of this fisherman he just killed. Same thing happens here, in the middle of the movie, though, but this print doesn’t fill with as blood. I think I also saw another homage, to a particular kill in one of the FRIDAY THE 13th films.

Technically the film impressed me, too. The use of the 2.35:1 ratio is something I don’t normally see used to its full capacity, even in big budget films. It’s like everyone’s forgotten how to make full use of it. John Carpenter knew how to do it and I saw some compositions in this one that reminded me of his films.

The filmmakers have told me this short film is essentially a marketing tool they’re using in trying to get a feature length movie of it made, and this bigger budgeted EAGLEWALK movie has been described to me as something that “. . .features more characters, a richer mythology, a jaw-dropping twist halfway through, and an epic man vs. beast finale that makes “The Edge” look like kiddy play.”
Well, shit, I’m down for that.

Lately many of the Bigfoot movies I see coming out are found footage flicks or lame SyFy channel movies, so it’s refreshing to see someone putting Bigfoot back into the horror genre where he belongs and, in my opinion, where he does his best work, and doing it in a way where they essentially plant the camera and tell the story. Aside from the aforementioned NIGHT OF THE DEMON, the only other movie where Bigfoot was treated as a proper monster of horror, and one I also like, is 2006’s ABOMINABLE.

Currently you can only see this short film at festivals and conventions, or by getting a review copy, but the filmmakers are looking into a way to get it out to the masses via DVD. Hopefully they’ll have something ready in 2013.

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