The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot (2019)

The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot (2019)

The Man Who Killed Hitler, Bigfoot posterDirected by: Robert D. Krzykowski. Starring: Sam Elliott, Aidan Turner, Ron Livingston. Runtime: 1h 38 min. Released: February 8, 2019.

(This review has spoilers.)

With a title like The Man Who Killed Hitler and then The Bigfoot, there should be no world where I don’t like this. Unfortunately, this is that world because it plays out so seriously. We get an aging war veteran, Calvin Barr (Sam Elliott) who reflects on his past as Young Calvin (Aidan Turner) kills Hitler (this scene is tense but the leadup is long) and romances his sweetheart Maxine (Caitlin FitzGerald).

Sure, these scenes are sweet, but I wanted to watch an aging war veteran kick ass and just kill Bigfoot, and instead it’s such a dull film. There are so many flashback scenes and they drag when you want action. There is some well-choreographed action, like Calvin fighting off car thieves, but the film feels uneventful.

40 minutes in, the film was still only foreshadowing that, at some point, he will indeed hunt Bigfoot. Just when Calvin was about to fall asleep and I was dreading another flashback, Ron Livingston shows up as an FBI agent to tell him about Bigfoot. Truly, I’ve never been so relieved to see Ron Livingston in a movie.

He tells Calvin that Bigfoot’s deep in the Canadian wilderness and is the carrier of the Nightmare Plague, and Calvin needs to stop him before Bigfoot leaves containment, otherwise the world will end. Calvin’s immune and he’s their only hope – and the only other option is bombing Western Canada. Calvin is the right call.

The Man, Hitler, Bigfoot, featured
Sam Elliott in The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot (IMDb).

Elliott plays Calvin well, about as perfectly as writer/director Robert D. Kryzkowski could have asked for. The cinematography (by Alex Vandler) is strong, and there are some beautiful shots. However, the film is boring, surprising because it should be a film planted in the fantasy of killing Hitler, and then many years later, killing Bigfoot. The pacing just fails because the hunt itself is so brief. Bigfoot looks gnarly and the fight is gruesome, but Bigfoot doesn’t live up to his name.

This is just a movie about a war veteran who has lived a mundane life with two highlight reel moments (Hitler, Bigfoot) but gets zero credit for it. It’s an intriguing direction Kryzkowski takes this in, as a competent reflection on one’s accomplishments and love life, but I wish it was more about the hunt. I frankly don’t think anyone wants a love story when it could be Sam Elliott hunting a yeti the entire time.

I try not to judge a film on what I wanted from it, but it’s impossible with this one as my lack of enjoyment is because I expected something different. If you go in expecting a slow, depressing drama about an aging war veteran reflecting on his boring life, with some action, it’s still mediocre. If you’re expecting a campy, tongue-in-cheek kind-of actioner, The Man Who Killed Hitler and then The Bigfoot refuses to cash that cheque.

Score: 40/100

Drinking Buddies (2013)

Drinking BuddiesReleased: July 25, 2013. Directed by: Joe Swanberg. Starring: Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick. Runtime: 90 min. 

Drinking Buddies is an experimental romantic drama/light comedy directed by Joe Swanberg that follows best buddy brewery workers Luke (Jake Johnson) and Kate (Olivia Wilde) who also like each other, but they both have other romantic interests. This is a film bathed in the idea that beer taints the ability to make good decisions, and you can’t always tell if what you’re doing is right or wrong. It’s like you’re looking at the situation through a glass of beer. This is what helps this film differentiate from other generic romantic drama/comedies, even though this still isn’t good. 

The material at hand just isn’t strong. I learn that the film is entirely improvised, and there wasn’t a script written, only a vague outline of plot and order in which events might take place. This is something that does allow the acting become more believable, but it’s a film that just largely fails. There are just so many other performers who are a lot better at getting laughs from their audience. The actors in this film only get an occasional chuckle. But the cast, also including Anna Kendrick and Ron Livingston, is quite charming. 

The banter between them all is sometimes pretty good. They all have a great chemistry, which saves the film a bit. even when it’s a bit awkward at times. But heck, Kendrick could have good chemistry with a wall. The chemistry between everyone is very sweet. It’s a realistic look at relationships and how picking the person you’ll spend your life with is a hard decision. It’s a look at the confusing times of relationships, too. 

Everything’s a bit frustrating because the viewer probably just wants the two couples to swap partners. The film is sometimes frustrating (this is mostly the third act) and sporadically funny. This finds a strange balance between mildly charming (because of the cast) and mildly boring. The characters are okay, just simplistic. This is just all pretty boring and often frustrating, and it’s just intensely forgettable – and it all feels pretty empty by the end of it all.

Score: 50/100

The Conjuring (2013)

The_Conjuring_423.jpgReleased: July 19, 2013. Directed by: James Wan. Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor. Runtime: 112 min.

James Wan’s The Conjuring has something too often missing from modern horror films: real scares. I think this film is scary as hell. This film is enough to make me paranoid before bed, but not able to lose that much sleep. If I had seen this in theatres, it may have been a different story if I’d seen this in theatres because of the creepy score and great sound design, and couple that with surround sound, it might make viewers very paranoid at points. This film does start to creep me out just thinking about it. And how effective is that?

The true story follows the Perron family, an ordinary family haunted by a hateful spirit in early 1970s Rhode Island. For part of the film’s first act, focus is shifted between the Perron family and demonologists (the only two recognized by the Catholic Church) Ed and Lorraine Warren (portayed by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, respectively) until the Warren’s go to help the family.

Lorraine is given an extra layer by something that happened to her in a previous case. Her husband is more protective of her because of that, and it gives them a great chemistry. This also gives the two characters a nice layer of vulnerability. The two actors are great, so they’d have a great chemistry regardless. To find both good characterization and memorable performances already seems like a rarity in today’s modern horror market. I think the family gets some pretty good characterization, too, and they’re performed well by Ron Livingston, Lili Taylor and Joey King. The family dynamic’s explored realistically. I like the idea that, when one is younger, their imaginations make them more vulnerable.

What makes the movie more interesting is a sub-plot on another one of Warren’s cases, where an inhuman spirit inhabits a truly eerie Annabelle doll. It’s what helps introduce the Warren’s into the film. I think their lectures are fascinating, and they add on to the mythology of demonology and paranormal activity; other scenes add to the mythology, as well.

The film takes the old-school horror route with old-fashioned scares and a great foreshadowing of what’s to come; like clocks stopping at a certain time each night, pets being scared of the house, and bruises on bodies. The creepy score is used well for foreshadowing, as well. The 1970s styled costume design is great, especially for Farmiga. I think it’s interesting to see how they plan to catch demonic activity before advanced technology. The scares are simplistic but endlessly effective and memorable, and the imagery and crazy spooks stick with you. A lot of this is edge-of-your-seat, sweat-on-your-palms scary. I think something that is impressive is that the film doesn’t lose its footing when the entity’s revealed, it gets even better.

James Wan is a master at creating a haunting film like this. He understands the atmosphere and creates it realistically. The always switching camera angles and points of view keep things interesting and refreshing. The cinematography is just great, and the editing just as awesome. Something that makes this film a bit more ominous is that it’s based on true events. To think that this can happen to you is really scary. Some scares are foreshadowed, and sometimes the simplest of developments (foggy breath, shadows following each family member) prove to be some of the most chilling.

This is the best horror film of 2013, just beating out Evil Dead. It all leads up to one phenomenal finale, and what’s more memorable is how the finale has a lot going on, spanning different settings, but manages to have great focus. This also has one hell of a memorable exorcism scene.