Frogman Review

The croaks are no hoax! Frogman hops onto SCREAMBOX exclusively on June 7. The ribbiting found footage curio explores the local legend of an amphibious cryptid.

“These croaks are no hoax”. You see, that’s how you sell a movie to me. That’s some great “bad” writing there. It’s so good, it almost made me miss “[t]he ribbiting found footage curio…”. Come on! Someone went all in on that description, and it got me all frogged up. I’d say something like “I’m hopping mad to get into this one!”, but they ALSO already used a “hop” joke up there. I really just can’t compete with this summary writer. High quality stuff, that.

I’m curious what are everyone’s thoughts on cryptid legends. Not necessarily movies about them like this one, but actual in-the-real-world cryptid folklore. Personally, it’s really not for me. Despite my passion for such objectively non-real things as comic books, movies, and pro wrestling, I have ridiculously little use for stuff in the real world that can’t be physically proven. My personal take on it all is that I’ll believe in stuff like Mothman or ghosts or gods approximately at the same time my latent heat vision kicks in.

Which is to say, it’s not fair that I don’t have super powers, so why should poltergeist get to be real?

Movies about cryptids, though; those can be fun. I’ll always remember a hidden gem I found on Shudder a few years back called Dawn Of The Beast. It’s about a sasquatch, and the denouement of that movie sees Bigfoot fight an army of wendigo.

That was so rad.

So between that memory of a cryptid based film and the excellent movie summary up there, I was hopping mad to get into Frogman!

(Damn it)

Frogman tells the story of Dallas Kyle, who, as a young man, was on a vacation with his family when he caught footage of the titular cryptid in the town of Loveland. Decades later, Dallas is a directionless layabout who is staying with his sister’s family and refuses to get a job. When he catches a video of a YouTube sensation mocking his Frogman footage and Dallas’ subsequent attempts at filmmaking, however, he is filled with renewed purpose. He becomes determined to prove the Frogman is real once and for all.

He calls upon his two best friends, Scotty and Amy–the latter of whom he recently had a one-night stand with–and heads back to Loveland to catch Frogman on film again.

In the intervening years, Loveland has marketed itself as the home of the Frogman. The entire town has become a tourist trap of anura-themed restaurants, stores, and bed-and-breakfasts. Will Dallas, fighting against what everyone else around him sees as a joke, finally get to go face-to-face with the Frogman yet again?

I mean… it’s a horror found footage movie. What do YOU think?

TWO HOPS AND TWO CROAKS… I MEAN: TWO UPS AND TWO DOWNS

See? I got jokes, too, Summary Guy!

+ Frogman kicks off with various false starts to keep you guessing as to what the story is going to be, and I like being kept on my toes like that. We start off with Dallas as a boy and his family on their vacation. While mom and dad have a fierce argument, Dallas and his sister step out of the car and end up encountering the Frogman!

From there, we hop over (I’ll stop, I’ll stop) to apparent YouTube sensation Jeremy Jay talking to the camera about Dallas and the Frogman legend, and for a minute, I had flashbacks to Dead Stream. I thought, “Oh, this movie is going to be about this guy making fun of the legend and getting his comeuppance”.

But THEN, we move back and see a now-adult Dallas watching the video and becoming enraged, and that kicks off the actual focal point of the flick. Not only do the multiple fake-outs keep the audience guessing as to where the story is going, but they help build the backstory and Dallas’ character. Good stuff.

+ Speaking of the early going, Frogman does a decent job with its juxtaposition of Dallas as a kid who came from an unstable home environment and wants to be taken seriously as an adult, with the current reality that he is pretty unlikable. He won’t try to get a job. He sleeps until the afternoon. He keeps his sister and her boyfriend awake by being loud while they let him stay with them. He’s not a cheerable protagonist here. So we are torn early on as to whether or not we sympathize with him.

It’s a good balance/counter-balance of building his character and making him rounded and realistic that works in the first act, but unfortunately…

– What starts off as a solid foundation of making Dallas nuanced eventually becomes some wildly inconsistent characterization as the movie goes on. Dallas is singularly focused on proving Frogman exists and that his childhood encounter was the real deal… except when he cools his heels for a bit and blows off steam. So we end up with a guy who one moment will be lambasting his friends for not taking his quest seriously enough… and the next moment will be forgetting all of that and partying in a hotel room.

It ends up creating this jarring character in Dallas where he can’t seem to decide if he wants to ruin everyone’s fun and poo-poo their ideas for his would-be documentary or if he wants to have a good time with them. I never had a solid grasp on what Dallas’ reaction might or should be to any given scenario.

– Even at a wonderfully brief 80 minute runtime–you know I love my quick movies–Frogman still finds time to kind of meander around and feel bloated. It seems like the second act of the film is everything people hate about some found footage efforts: characters walking around the woods purposelessly, character dynamics that ultimately don’t go anywhere (we get a lot of time spent on Dallas and Amy’s night together and what they each think of it, but if you take all of that out of the movie, nothing really changes), and weird side quests.

Frogman could have been tightened up into a 65-70 minute outing if you removed from aspects–I’m looking at everything having to do with George Hale, the other man who had previously captured Frogman on film–but it just didn’t make it that far in editing.

OVERALL

After the tedious second act, Frogman has the decency to get super absurd in the third. And this is no Blair Witch Project; we end up seeing a lot of the titular antagonist. If you just want a silly, horrific ride, Frogman can ultimately end up offering that to you, but that doesn’t change that the path there is a bit all over the place and unfocused. There’s some joy to be had, but the warts are definitely pretty well-defined on this one.

★★ Out of 5

You may also like...