It's hard not to be impressed by what Duane Graves and Justin Meeks set out to do with The Wild Man of the Navidad. Unfortunately, it's impossible to be impressed with the results. And the fact that this complete waste of time screened right alongside Let the Right One In at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival is enough to make one embarrassed for these two guys.
The first time I tried to watch it, I fell asleep before the Sam Elliot-knockoff opening narration was even over. I now realize I was better off the first time.
Graves and Meeks wrote the screenplay, and co-directed. They also co-star in the film, and executive produced. They edited the film, and Graves served as cinematographer. They did all the production design and costumes, such as they are, and Meeks worked on the makeup effects. They also had their fingers in visual effects, and yes, even sound design.
While this may sound amazing, and makes for a great story, unfortunately it also makes for a movie that looks like it was made by two guys who had no crew whatsoever. Basically, this is film school level stuff, and not even good film school level stuff. It's even shot on something less than acceptable film stock, making it look like a trumped up fan flick, or maybe a second-rate SyFy Original.
The claim to fame here is that the film was also co-produced by Kim Henkel, associate producer of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. But do NOT believe the hype here folks, the only thing this movie has in common with TCM is that it also takes place in Texas. It possesses not a shred of the brilliance and inspiration of Tobe Hooper's classic, and the cast of complete amatuers couldn't put forth a performance that's one fourth as great as anything seen in that film.
Speaking of which, I need to specifically point out that this is some of the worst acting I've ever seen in a motion picture, horror or otherwise. I'm sorry, but making a super low-budget horror flick doesn't mean you have to cast the entire movie with nothing but completely unconvincing, unprofessional yokels, plus yourselves. In that case, you get what you pay for. Any impact this flick may have had was totally ruined by the completely comatose cast of rejects.
The whole thing is built on some obscure Sasquatch-like legend about a vicious man-like creature living in the backwoods near a small town in southeastern Texas. He roams the land of one particular hillbilly, until said hayseed loses his job and decides to start renting out the creature's territory to hunters. Mayhem ensues, and lots of sheep guts are haphazardly hurled about in shockingly ineffective fashion.
And do not get me started on the "creature". Even my mom and wife, who were being unnecessarily kind to this flick in their need for mindless entertainment, had to balk at the shameful awfulness that is the Wild Man himself. Let me tell you, Ed Wood would be proud. Pretty much, they took an actor, covered him in a bunch of fur coats, gave him some deer antlers to hold, and added some grunting sound effects. The word "insulting" comes to mind. Also, the word "laughable".
This is a sad example of the downside of the independent horror scene, in which a clever gimmick or hook can get a movie distribution and backing, when said movie doesn't deserve to ever unspool anywhere in the civilized world. Here is a fine example. Clearly, the whole "two guys literally made this movie on their own" thing is what got it all the attention. I wonder if those who chose to back it actually sat through the thing, though.
After over a year of mystifying festival showings, it came out on DVD last month. Don't waste your time. In short, avoid The Wild Man of the Navidad. To quote the great Jerry "The King" Lawler, I've seen better film on teeth.
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