SXSW FILM 2010
By Don Simpson | March 28, 2010
Director: Andrew Bowser
Writer: Andrew Bowser
Starring: Andrew Bowser, Pedro Gonzalez, Chris Jones, Michael Eller, Tim Kuczka, Micah Terrill, Rose Rodkey, Brittany Latorre
We all have known someone like Jimmy Tupper (Andrew Bowser). He is that guy that always gets too drunk at parties. He makes a fool of himself and can be quite the buzz kill for those who can hold their liquor and know their limits. No one really likes guys like Jimmy Tupper. Jimmy Tupper is a nobody. Even the guys who he considers to be his friends seem to despise him. Nonetheless, guys like Jimmy Tupper always seem to know where the party is at.
And here he is, a drunken fool once again. This time when Jimmy finally passes out for the night, his friends decide to teach him a lesson. They drive him out to the woods and drop him on the forest floor. (You certainly don’t do something like this to a friend.)
They expect Jimmy to walk home when he wakes up, but when that doesn’t happen guilt brings them back to the woods to track him down. When they finally find him, he is beaten and bloodied – and a nervous wreck. He looks like he saw a ghost and he swears up and down that he encountered the Blair Witch…I mean the Jersey Devil…no, wait, I mean the Goatman of Bowie. Of course no one believes him, so he grabs his camping gear and borrows a video camera – the same camera which has taped everything so far and will continue to do so – to prove that the Goatman of Bowie really exists.
Jimmy Tupper starts off strong, ready for anything. He films himself camping, tracking, laying traps and eating…but then he begins to go stir crazy, freaking out every time he hears a strange noise. Whether or not he finds the Goatman, I will not divulge…this is a movie that is definitely worth sitting through to find out for your self.
Jimmy Tupper VS. the Goatman of Bowie is a true “found footage” horror film – a genre I typically detest because of shameless shortcuts taken by lazy directors (for example, the inclusion of scenes involving plot exposition and dramatic elements in order to drive the plot forward, no matter how unrealistic the camera footage – I’m looking at you Cloverfield, Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity). In this case, writer-director Andrew Bowser set strict rules for himself and his actors about what could and couldn’t be realistically captured on camera by the characters during every single scene. Therefore the narrative of Jimmy Tupper… is “missing” several scenes (because the scenes could not have realistically been filmed by the characters) but these omissions not only add to the film’s realism but also to its suspense.
Bowser deserves a shit load of credit for creating such an authentic “found footage” film; but be forewarned – by keeping Jimmy Tupper… so realistic, the plot is prone to meandering. This is not a “found footage” film that was privileged to post-production by the “founders” of the tape (ala Cloverfield, Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity); instead Bowser shows the audience exactly what the characters videotaped with no edits (other than when the characters turn the camera off). Bowser cares more about realism than plot twists and thrilling suspense – nonetheless I found Jimmy Tupper… rather thrilling.
Additionally, Bowser’s performance as the titular Jimmy is spot on. He is able to convince the audience of his annoying loser status very early on, but then our opinion of Jimmy changes drastically as the film progresses. So even without a traditional narrative structure, Bowser is still able to create a character with a very strong development arc. Arguably the reason the character of Jimmy works so well is because the traditional narrative rules of cinema are tossed aside. I, for one, did not feel as attuned to the characters in Cloverfield, Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity as I did with Jimmy; and I would argue that it is because realism creates a much deeper connection with the audience.
I sure hope that there really is a sequel to this!