This review originally appeared in a slightly different form on my old Rotten Tomatoes blog. It's of a film I saw at the 2008 STIFF festival in Seattle. Production company Bad Fritters Films was looking for a distributor then... and they still seem to be looking. That's a real shame, because this is an excellent horror film.
Paper Dolls (2007)
Starring: Adam Pitman, Nathaniel Petersen, Gill Gayle, Kent Harper, Rian Jairell, and Sarina Hart
Directors: David Blair and Adam Pitman
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars
Two best friends (Pitman and Petersen) decide to celebrate their high school graduation with a "men's only" trip to Canada. When a strange gas station attendent (Harper) tells them about an old logging road that will bypass the clogged border crossing, they encounter some horrifying creatures in the woods... creatures that prove the legend of Sasquatch is all too real. Or do they? As Sheriff Domain (Gayle) and his deputies investigate, they uncover disturbing facts that point to a different, but equally dark, chain of events.
"Paper Dolls" is a film that is part thriller and part monster movie with a dash of teen slasher flick added to the mix, and it succeeds at being all those things to a far greater degree than what is common for horror films. It's also the scariest Sasquatch/Big Foot movie that I think has ever been unleashed on the general public.
Although it gets off to a shakey start--we have a prologue that will make you think you're in for another "Blair Witch Proect"/"Dairy of the Dead" movie consisting of video clips, which is then followed by what seems like the real credit sequence and then some nature shots that feel like a credit-less credit sequence--"Paper Dolls" finds its proper voice and direction shortly after that, treating the audience to a film that features a level of technical craftsmanship and professionalism all-too-rarely seen in low-budget horror films like this.
The cinematogrpahy is excellent and the movie is shot with a style that's modern yet stylish in a way that hasn't been seen since the early days of the horror flick; the directors recognize that the scariest monster can be the one you never get to see clearly and the monsters in this film are always hidden in shadows or seen fleetingly as barely discernible tangles of fur and hair as they attack. The movie also looks better than many of its modern counterparts, because it was actually shot on film rather than video (digital or otherwise)--the deep shadows of the night forest are truly black on screen. And, finally, the filmmakers didn't give sound a short-shrift in their film, and many scenes are as scary as they are due to the sound design.
The film also sports a well-development, well-written script. Each character has a unique voice, and it gives the talented cast the tools they need to fully bring the characters and the story to life. When the script is funny, it's very funny and when it's scary, it's VERY scary. The filmmakers also managed to come up with a perfect ending (well, two endings, really) that maintain the film's momentum to the very end. I particularly love the return to the videotaped talking-to-the-camera that the movie opened with, with a final shot that's perfectly framed and timed and edited.
For more information about this film, click here to visit the website of production company Bad Fritter Films.