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  • Rev Horror


Dir. Anthony Cousins (2023)

A group of friends learn that the Loveland Frogman is more than just a local legend.

Found footage has taken heavy advantage of the advent of social media and influencers. YouTubers and their over-the-top personalities have given filmmakers a new avenue to explore, new ways to tell their stories within a genre that appeared dead in the water after its initial surge in popularity during the late 90's-early 2000's. Found footage works especially well when discussing cryptids and other folklore-based creatures, as it not only provides a reason for the camera to be rolling (as the search for creatures in the woods lends itself to handheld cameras and low production values) but also a realistic monster to focus upon. Today's film talks about the Loveland Frog, a (perhaps) mythical creature from Southwest Ohio that actually exists in the region's folktales.

Dallas (Nathan Tymoshuk) is a loser, a grown man living on a friend's couch as he struggles to regain the popularity that he had as a child after capturing the clearest footage available of an Ohio-based cryptid called the Frogman. He happens upon a YouTuber who calls his footage a hoax and becomes determined to make a documentary on the creature, roping in a couple of friends who are willing to go with him and try to find the beast. After interviewing some strange locals who believe in the legend, the trio head into the woods to try to capture footage of the Frogman, finding themselves in much deeper than they intended with a creature who is very much real.

The film opens with a few comedic beats but quickly shifts into more of a standard found footage horror flick, focusing more on realism than it does humor. It still gets its jabs in from time to time, as the trio of Dallas, Amy (Chelsey Grant), and Scotty (Benny Barrett) make fun of each other and feel very much like a few friends actually trying to make a documentary. Dallas' obsession drags his friends along for the ride, and Frogman takes a lot of its beats from more famous found footage classics like The Blair Witch Project. The Frogman as a concept doesn't feel particularly terrifying, but the film carries enough supernatural elements and human-based horror that it works surprisingly well despite its reliance on genre tropes and subpar production values.

Frogman takes a long time to get going, with almost an hour elapsing before froggie activity starts to occur. The majority of the film is a setup, as the filmmakers travel to Loveland, interview locals, and explore gift shops dedicated to the creature. Once the trio enter the woods, however, things actually do get a little creepy, though even that is held back to an extent by shaky camera movement and a lot of stumbling around. The last twenty-some-odd minutes of the film go straight into horror territory, with the reveal of the creature and some pretty decent effects work helping to make up for the slow movement of the beginning of the film. The sound design is also fantastic, especially during this latter segment, with cracking branches punctuating the guttural growls of the amphibious creature.

The real stars of the show are the peformances by Tymoshuk, Grant, and Barrett. They all do a great job in their roles, but unfortunately there's very little story to actually tell. It's easy to believe that Amy and Scotty would be irritated by Dallas, because he's the stereotypical "believer" who has suffered a life filled with mockery and derision. While Tymoshuk's delivery of the character works well for realism, it also is fairly annoying and makes the star of the show pretty unlikeable. There are plenty of films that take the same tactic, as most fans didn't particularly "like" the characters at the center of Blair Witch and Grave Encounters' entire cast being a bunch of hateable douches. Unfortunately, there's just not enough action (or scares) here to make up for the choice to have a series of less-than-lovable characters.

At the end of the day, Frogman is an enjoyable-enough found footage creature feature that does enough things well to make it worth a watch. The slow start was tough to get through, but the insane finale, which is mostly saved for the last twenty minutes or so of the runtime, is worth waiting for. The film is a bit of a slog, but it's generally done fairly well, and if you're a fan of found footage, you'll likely enjoy this one as well. It follows the genre's tropes without breaking the immersion, and it has a lot of fun with its premise in a way that most films in the genre fail to do. Give this one a look if you enjoy this type of thing.

Who this movie is for: Found footage fans, Mockumentary lovers, Herpetologists

Bottom line: Frogman is a decent found footage creature feature that overcomes its slow start with a crazy finale that may make the whole thing worth watching. It's far from the best found footage flick, it's characters are largely annoying, and it never becomes either fully-scary or fully-funny. The actors do a great job, however, and the plot itself is interesting enough that it's worth a look regardless. This one is streaming on Screambox now, and if you're a found footage fan, this one might be right up your alley.

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