The Legend of Boggy Creek

3 out of 5

Directed by: Charles B. Pierce

The G-rated, 70s predecessor to Paranormal Activity!

Okay, sure, calling a generally genteel docudrama that features folksy songs about its various Boggy Creek locals fishin’ and huntin’ and occasional shots of a guy in a hairy sasquatch costume akin to PA is a stretch, but the way director Charles B. Pierce allows his camera to calmly linger across shots of empty forest, while narrator Jim (Vern Stierman) tells us about the titular legend of a wandering creature, encourages our eyes to scrabble across the screen for hints of something hiding… which is very much a Paranormal Activity-type experience.

The Legend of Boggy Creek isn’t necessarily riveting viewing, but it’s an amusing one, and rather wholly sincere: writer Earl E. Smith and Pierce weren’t out to poke fun at rural living and their folktales, rather just trying to bring a bit of lore to life, and allow us to see how it makes “sense” in a region where neighbors are miles away, and the ambience is the general chitter or critters and not traffic or electronics. The stuff is scripted, sure, but it uses non-actors to execute that, and lets them mostly speak their peace about believing in the monster or not, while occasional tales of the bigfoot-esque creature wandering into frame – maybe scaring a baby; maybe ravaging a dog – are given visual expression.

Part of the charm of the movie – though also possibly its “failing” as a thriller or somesuch – is that Jim makes it clear to us that the creature doesn’t seem to care to hide from the townsfolk, and as such, a lot of its appearances that we’re shown are during the day, and in full view – dude just lumbers across the street, or hangs out in the background. And while it does hit up the livestock for food, there’s some recognition of how that syncs with animal behavior in general; it’s just another thing to track and hunt to these outdoorsy types.

…But it walks on two legs and has three toes, so we do err toward it being more monster than animal, and that’s used for some more typically horror sequences in which it stalks outside of cabins late at night. It’s here that Pierce shows filmic competency, with handheld shots and editing that’s straight out of a genre flick, but it’s also where the movie jumps the shark a bit, like it needed some exclamation points to liven up the otherwise generally peaceful, folksy vibe.

The Legend of Boggy Creek doesn’t add anything to the genre, per se, and can easily be laughed at or brushed off due to its uncynical tone and somewhat sunny disposition, but if it’s taken on the terms it presents, it’s surely watchable, and still “works” as a piece of localized folklore.