Greywood's Plot

**

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Greywood's Plot
"Whilst this is as scrappy as you'd expect given its financial limitations, it's quite well directed in places and stylistic choices made early on pay off nicely."

Look up cryptid sightings on the internet and you'll get tens of thousands of results. There are hundreds of thousands of pages out there about supposed sightings of Bigfoot. Yes, a lot of it's tongue-in-cheek, but even so, these stories clearly possess a strong appeal. Perhaps they help assuage a hunger for the days when large parts of the world remained unknown to outsiders. They're intensely important to Dom (played by director and co-writer Josh Stifter), who reports on them online - but how can he get his channel noticed alongside so many others?

When the world began to grow smaller and the discovery of unknown creatures less common, cinema compensated in part by imagining a world of scientific discoveries both marvellous and monstrous. It's these sensationalist B-movies of the Forties and Fifties that provided the inspiration for Stifter's project, which was shot out in the woods by him and three of his friends on a budget of approximately $100.00. To call it a spoof doesn't feel quite right: there's too much love in it for that. What's more, it doesn't pretend to be from that era. It's an exploration of the relationship between that type of filmmaking and today's culture of desperately pursuing viral YouTube success.

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Having heard rumours of a sighting of a rare cryptid out in a remote patch of countryside - the titular plot owned by one Doug Greywood (Daniel Degnan) - Dom enlists sometime best friend Miles (Keith Radichel) to help him investigate. Their relationship has been strained of late as Miles has finally moved on in life and thinks Dom should do the same, but they have a shared history which still means a lot to them both, and their easy banter fills out the film's best dramatic scenes. It ambles along amiably enough to begin with, and by the time one begins to lose one's patience and wonder when something will actually happen, the protagonists are feeling the same way. We needn't worry. They should. The film is about to take a turn into very different territory.

Shot in black and white, in keeping with its inspirations, this is a film which nevertheless delivers heavily on gore in a second half based around experimental surgery, psychological manipulation and, um, something like puppy play. It's not entirely serious, of course, but it still manages to be quite bold in its suggestions. To say more would be to spoil the story, which isn't exactly deep but does have questions to ask about sanity, identity and the true meaning of friendship.

Whilst this is as scrappy as you'd expect given its financial limitations, and there are moments when it looks like test footage for special effects software, it's quite well directed in places and stylistic choices made early on pay off nicely. There's none of the over-hasty cutting or messy transition work which one comes to associate with amateur productions. Acting-wise, Degnan is the weak link - he undoubtedly has physical presence on account of his abnormal size, but is too hesitant in his delivery and doesn't put across the sense of commitment that his character needs. Nevertheless, the latter part of the film is so wilfully hammy that it will have many audience members in stitches (much like one of its heroes) whether they find his work convincing or not.

Part of 2021's Frightfest line-up, this is one of those films that may eventually find its natural home in a three-for-a-pound package in the middle aisle of Lidl - but whilst most discs sold that way end up as coasters, this one will be brought back out on special occasions or, at least, fondly remembered.

Reviewed on: 28 Jul 2021
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Greywood's Plot packshot
After finding a tape of what appears to be a monster, two friends journey into the woods to uncover if the video was a hoax.

Director: Josh Stifter

Writer: Daniel Degnan, Josh Stifter

Starring: Daniel Degnan, Kim Fagan, Samantha Kirchoff

Year: 2019

Runtime: 78 minutes

Country: US

Festivals:

Frightfest 2021

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