The Briar Bushman (2006) – By Duane L. Martin

 When you watch a film like like The Briar Bushman, comparisons to the Blair Witch Project are bound to come to mind. In this case however, instead of some obscure witch, we have what’s supposed to be a bigfoot type of thing wandering around the countryside in Texas. As the story goes, this guy was doing a documentary film on two white trash guys named Willy Jones and Ray Smitty, who have taken it as their life’s mission to track down and kill the bushman…and that’s about it. Supposedly, the two rednecks and the cameraman disappeared and the tape the documentary guy was shooting was left anonymously with police and is presented here in it’s unedited form.

So…um…yeah. Look, I always try to encourage independent filmmakers to get out there and make their films, and even if I don’t like them, it’s only my opinion as a reviewer and some other people may love it, but since I am a reviewer, I have to be honest in my opinions, otherwise I’d lose all credibility. So here’s my opinion: This is one of the most mind numbingly boring and tedious movies I have ever seen!

I don’t say something like that lightly, nor do I take any pleasure in saying it, but it’s the truth. This film is presented in it’s "unedited" form as a documentation of the events leading up to the disappearance of these three men. I think that was a huge part of the problem. It could have done with a lot of editing. There are long bits where the documentary guy is just setting up his camera or fiddling around with something. Then there’s the long winded ramblings of the two rednecks that just seems to go on endlessly as they’re interviewed by a skeptical filmmaker who could stand to take a nice big handful of personality pills. The first 47 or so minutes of the film are literally those two things I just mentioned. The dialogue sounds almost completely improvised, which I’m sure was to give it more of a realistic feel, but in fact only served to make the film more tedious.

There is a ray of hope though. After the mind numblingly boring interview segment, they actually go out to track the bushman. So here’s a chance for something more interesting to happen. But does it? No. In fact, we’re treated to more adlibbed dialogue, more camera set-up, etc…

So did they find the Bushman after all this? Well…yeah, but it wasn’t a bigfoot. Basically they were wandering around on some guy’s property and he showed up all pissed off and killed the two rednecks. The documentary guy runs, but only finds himself face to face with some caveman-like retarded guy with long hair and a hammer. He’s even wearing clothes. So he pops the filmmaker with the hammer, and then we’re treated to a few more scattered shots of him being dragged off by the "bushman" and the bushman fooling around with the camera trying to figure out what it is…and that’s about it.

While there are some slight points of amusement with the two rednecks, mostly they’re just annoying and at times the film feels like it’ll never end. Believe me, I understand the whole idea of doing it in an unedited style to make it more realistic, but my god, at least all the futzing with the camera could have been cut down to a minimum. That felt like it went on forever, and about five seconds into it I was like, "Ok, bored now. Let’s move on."

What really disapointed me was the ending. After sitting through all the rest of it, I at LEAST wanted to see a real bushman come out and kill them. Instead all we get is a pissed of property owner and a retard with a hammer. I can’t even tell you what a let down that was. Not only was it a let down, but it was also somehow very anti-climactic.

Looking through the film’s website, I was actually pretty excited about reviewing this film. It’s all very slickly packaged and there’s a nice kind of a whole back story to it, but sadly, the paper they sent along with the DVD that included the whole back story was far more interesting than the film itself.

As I said, I really hate giving any independent film a bad review, because I know what people put into making them, and I feel that filmmakers should always be encouraged to practice their craft, but for me, this film just missed the mark.

If you’d like to find out more about this film, you can visit the film’s website at http://www.nothingnesspictures.com/briarbushman.htm.