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By Mark Bell | May 9, 2012

To be perfectly honest, when Paper Dolls started rolling, I was already misjudging the film. Because the opening sequence is of the “police evidence video / found footage” variety, my mind was already going, “not another one.” To be fair, I’ve seen some great “found footage” flicks and some not-so-great ones, so I wasn’t prejudging based on what I thought of the quality to come, but just on the fact that I’ve seen many “found footage” flicks period. It’s like when you’re watching a slow-burning indie drama, and the first twang from an all-acoustic guitar music score happens. The film might be great but, really, all-acoustic guitar score again!?! I’m hitting my saturation point.

That said, co-directors David Blair and Adam Pitman’s film is not just another “found footage” horror flick. The initial sequence is just there for a bit of background, before the film plunges into its true tale of two high school graduates taking a trip together to Canada. As best friends Travis (Adam Pitman) and Nate (Nathaniel Peterson) head for the border, an attempted shortcut late at night down an old logging road turns deadly when the duo come across some Bigfoot-looking creatures holding hands, blocking the road. Had they just stayed there, maybe things would be okay, but the creatures attack the car and Nate is ripped from the vehicle.

The next morning, Travis attempts to make sense of the entire affair and, with the “help” of the same creepy gas station attendant (Kent Harper) who told the two guys about the shortcut in the first place, realizes that Nate has fallen victim to a clan of sasquatch in the neighboring woods. So what’s a man to do when he loses his best friend but head out into the wilderness to get his buddy back.

Paper Dolls is full of familiar horror clichés (the aforementioned gas station attendant that not only needs to know where the guys are going, but also has a shortcut to help them get there, for example), and it uses a number of different, though common, horror styles (flashbacks, found footage, etc), while still staking its claim to originality. For one, it takes the sasquatch mythos and flips it into something vaguely possible and altogether new; we’re talking about more a case of wilderness inbreeding over generations than, you know, ape-like creatures that somehow managed to survive and hide out. In some ways, this could’ve been a spectacular X-Files episode.

And the film does court the gore-friendly with certain sequences, and the initial encounter with the sasquatch clan, while not gorey, is intense and unnerving. I don’t know about you, but being stuck in a car in the middle of nowhere late at night while some humanoid-looking monsters beat the hell out of it, in an attempt to get in, scares the s**t out of me. Then again, I was convinced as a young boy that my Dad was going to be abducted by the Jersey Devil because he pulled over to take a leak one night while we were driving through the Pine Barrens; I’ve still got my own deep-seeded fears to contend with.

While I understand the usage of the police footage at the top of the film, and the way the film tries to connect additional story threads for some added depth, I don’t think the second storyline is needed. Had things stuck strictly to “two guys head to Canada, get attacked by a clan of sasquatch (Sasquatches? Sasquatchum? Sasquatchi?)” and focused on Travis doing his best to rescue Nate, it would’ve worked fine. In my mind, I was even hoping for something along the lines of a First Blood, but with Travis as Rambo and the sasquatch family as everyone Rambo fights. Once the sasquatch element is involved, everything else becomes less interesting than more adventures and scares with sasquatch.

In the end, this is the best horror film about sasquatch that I’ve ever seen. Granted, I can’t remember seeing another film about killer sasquatch, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that Paper Dolls is some great, creepy and horrific fun. Worth a look for something that brings a unique spin to the comfortably familiar.

This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.

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  1. Mitch Gaddy says:

    I would like to write a comment on the merit, or lack of, but I can’t find a website where I could watch it. Any info on where I can watch it would be appreciated.

  2. Goatlips says:

    “Oddly enough, made up or not, I did mean “deep seeded,” as in, planted like a seed, deep in the ground, from which many of my fears grow”
    …Yes, that’s exactly what ‘deep seated’ means too, only it is a known phrase. You can have ‘deep rooted’ if you insist on the plant analogy, but that’s more of a description than a traditional phrase.

    The biggest sasquatch mystery is that the films are all poop. They should make for great movies. Mind you, Stephen King’s books are popular, yet all the film versions are terrible, apart from ‘Misery’ and maybe one or two others (not ‘The Shining’, that film/story is a mess. The kid’s shining gift doesn’t even do anything! Plus, the ‘Hong Kong Phooey’ bloke takes forever to arrive, to instantly get axed!…Anyway, I digress).
    …Yeah, mythical, yet plausible creature, more frightening version of man. Spooky forest camping settings – which we all like but know are scary. Battle for survival, or hope that the protagonists find proof and solve the mystery of bigfoot…I guess no one’s ever invested enough money to produce a good one. I’m still yet to see ‘Paper Dolls’.

  3. Mark Bell says:

    Oddly enough, made up or not, I did mean “deep seeded,” as in, planted like a seed, deep in the ground, from which many of my fears grow.

    The “Paper Dolls” title does make sense when you see the film.

    The tagging system, while we can utilize it better going forward, was only implemented about a year and a half ago. Prior to our web re-design, had already been only for 13 years (with over 10K reviews), with no tagging in place (however the search function does yield quality results).

  4. Goatlips says:

    Thanks for a nice, well written, spoiler-free review. It drives me nuts when critics go into shakespearian nonsense mode!…That said, you meant ‘deep seated’. ‘Deep seeded’ is a made up phrase.

    Anyway! Having a quick look on IMDb, this HAS to be THE sasquatch film to see. Although ‘Paper Dolls’ (what’s that refer to?) didn’t show up in my cursory “sasquatch” search on their website. All the other big foot *why you not be making use of tags?* films score very low (<4/10). However, 'Scream of the Sasquatch' (2006) scores a 7/10 and is a "must see/best film ever" – presumably based on its unintentional hilarity (an Action/Adventure, not listed as Comedy). It seems they're all so bad they're the type of productions that try to cash-in on each other by having almost identical plots and titles: 'Shriek of the Sasquatch' (2011); 'The Untold' (2002) vs 'The Unknown' (2005), etc. Incidentally, 'The Untold', starring Lance Henriksen (who's actually made more than one sasquatch movie!), features (unintentionally, again) the most hilarious movie tagline ever:

    "Based on a true story.
    Involving sasquatch."

    Okay, I think I'm done, I'll be sure to check out 'Paper Dolls' (perhaps the producers also noticed 'Night of the Sasquatch' was a too generic title), if I get the chance.

    Thanks, and don't forget to use your search tags, I'm here completely by random surfing whilst lying in my bed! 🙂

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