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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

CHUPACABRA TERRITORY -- Blu-ray Review by Porfle

Ever since THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT came out in 1999, unofficial sequels, remakes, spin-offs, and carbon copies have popped up all over the place.  They all have one thing in common--the "found footage" gimmick, in which (a) some people foolishly go off into the woods for some reason while filming/videotaping themselves, (b) they disappear, and (c) their film/video footage is found, which contains evidence that they died in very scary and horrible ways.

The latest in this horror sub-genre, or at least the latest one I've seen, is CHUPACABRA TERRITORY (2016).  It's pretty similar to BLAIR WITCH in that a group of requisitely foolish young people head off into the wilderness in search of a scary folk legend (the chupacabra) without being anywhere near serious or prepared enough. In fact, these idiots are barely capable of camping out, much less encountering and dealing with a deadly crypto-creature while doing so.

As in BLAIR WITCH, the leader of the group is a female, Amber (Sarah Nicklin, NUN OF THAT, THE HAUNTING OF ALICE D), who fancies herself a cryptozoologist but is really just a silly flake.  She's accompanied by her equally flakey boyfriend Joe (Michael Reed, EXHUMED, NUN OF THAT), their skeptical friend Morgan who's along just to drink beer and scoff at their attempts (Alex Hyeck), and Dave, a nondescript character who's there mainly to capture the other three on his headband video camera (Bryant Jansen). 

Right away they know something's up when the usual road into the area is barricaded and a portly ranger orders them away while a mysterious biologist in a gas mask is in the background scouring the scene. 

They also encounter a gas pump jockey with wild stories and an actual dead deer that's been drained of blood and genitally mutilated.  Naturally, this just makes Amber and Joe act even more like giddy schoolkids on a field trip to a theme park.

What follows is the usual progression from party-fun-time mood to "wow, that was weird" to growing apprehension and evidence that something's really out there, and, finally, to a bloody, hopefully terrifying finale fraught with extreme fear and panic as our main characters find their search for the unknown to have been way more successful than they imagined.

With CHUPACABRA TERRITORY, unfortunately, the path to all that is fraught with long dull stretches in which not much of anything happens.  And when the action does start, much of it consists of POV shots of people running through the woods in the dark or other activity that's hard to make out. 

This kind of thing was pretty scary when we thought the Blair Witch was after us (for me anyway), but the chupacabra legend just doesn't seem to generate the same kind of spooky shivers. 

In order to make up for this, a supernatural element is added in which Amber seems to have a psychic connection with the monster and, in one scene, performs a witchy campfire ritual in which she ends up seemingly possessed.  There's also a weird chupacabra vomit or something that gets on people and causes them to either get horribly infected or start acting like automatons. 

None of which makes much sense, but it does help add to what's basically just a group of people trudging through the woods and intermittently getting real scared of various noises or movement out in the darkness. 

The cast do their best to keep the tension level up, with varying degrees of success at convincing us that they're real people in candid video footage instead of actors pretending to be.  This takes a whole different kind of acting that not all actors are adept at (Heather Donahue and company were great at it in BLAIR WITCH) but which is a crucial element for any found footage story.   

The Blu-ray from Maltauro Entertainment has an aspect ratio of 1920 x 1080 with stereo sound and English subtitles.  Extras consist of interviews with the cast, producer, and writer-director Matt McWilliams, a trailer, and a photo gallery. 

As these things go, CHUPACABRA TERRITORY is fairly entertaining if you keep your expectations low. It isn't the best post-BLAIR WITCH "found footage" movie I've seen, but it isn't the worst, either.

Buy it at


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