'Incident at Loch Ness' **** 051405
DVD Review (2005)

The Work = ****
I suspect, that the more of a film geek someone is, the more likely they are to enjoy 'Incident at Loch Ness'. There is no way for me to review this film without revealing spoilers so I will say if you want to know nothing about the film, then stop reading now and rent it. The movie is sort of a mish mash of 'Spinal Tap' meets 'Blair Witch Project' that goes to Hollywood. If you are a fan of either or both of those films and like Werner Herzog than this movie will probably be for you. (For me, I’m a fan of Herzog and 'Spinal Tap' but not 'Blair Witch Project'.)

Essentially this is a documentary style film that purports to be the collected footage of an ill fated expedition by famed filmmaker Werner Herzog. He and other members of the expedition are seen in talking head style interviews interspersed throughout the documentary footage of Herzog’s trip. Now, I know several critics and press were fooled into thinking this film or parts of it were real. To me watching it, it seemed like pure 'Spinal Tap' style mockumentary all the way.

I say that with the best of possible intentions. Yes everyone in the film is who they are billed as, meaning Herzog is himself, Zak Penn is himself, etc. They are all industry people and all play themselves. Penn however, plays a parody of himself. He makes himself the foil and plays the role as a smarmy Hollywood writer trying to buy his way into becoming a producer.

I sat watching this movie with a grin on my face the whole time. I’m a big film dork and seeing Werner Herzog playing the lead in this film turned out to be simply too cool. He fills the role well, even getting to play the hero briefly at the end. I realized watching this film that Herzog could easily have an acting career. (Actually he has played small roles in several films, but here he shows he can carry a movie.)

For the first half of the film it is more or less a straight forward would-be documentary. Things don’t go well. Herzog wants to do a legitimist documentary on the myths and weirdo’s surrounding Loch Ness. The producer (and ultimately director of Incident at Loch Ness) Penn wants to fake a monster and have matching jump suites for the cast and crew. He even hires a model in a bikini to play a sonar expert.

The whole thing heads towards a boiling point until people start seeing a monster in the water. The film drifts towards the horror realm at that point. I loved every bit of it but I wished it had gone for more horror. I also wish there had been a bit more action in the film.

Still, I really enjoyed 'Incident at Loch Ness'. It is an easy film for me to recommend but I realize it is not for everyone. If you are a fan of Herzog, his work, and enjoy mockumentaries than it is pretty much guaranteed that you will get some enjoyment out of it. It helps to be a big film dork too.

DVD = ****

The Look
'Incident at Loch Ness' was shot on digital video. It gets an ok transfer. The picture looked a bit on the dull side to me and I don’t know if it is the nature of the source or the transfer. The film is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen.

The Sound
The soundtrack came through as well as can be expected considering this is supposed to be a documentary shot in conditions that had a lot of background noise. Actually towards the end of the film the Dolby Digital 5.1 track made use of some good effects when the monster appears and the boat is attacked. Not the best sound but hey this wasn’t a 50 billion dollar movie. There is also a Dolby Digital 2.0 track and subtitles in English and Spanish.

The Bonus
The bonus features continue what the film started. Although presented on only one disk, it is a double sided disk with extra features on the flip side. Deleted footage is present in the form of short clips cut from the film. There is a trailer for the film that shows some serious miss marketing which is a shame because I think 'Incident at Loch Ness' could have had a larger following. The trailer makes the film look like a bad direct to video movie. There is a commentary from Herzog and Penn who bicker with each other while discussing details of the production. The commentary is a hoot (although not quite as entertaining as the film.)

What’s neat is beyond the regular features listed above are a ton of hidden features. Dragging your mouse or pressing left or right with your remote in the menus reveals icons of the Loch Ness monster, “ Nessy.” Click these and you’ll gain access to bunch of different hidden features. All of the hidden features more or less focus on the real production of Incident at Loch Ness. There is a real commentary with Penn and Herzog. Although dry it is still interesting and there are not any gaps during it. The two talk throughout the film sharing anecdotes and background info. There is also a more jokey commentary track with Penn and some of the cast. Another notable feature is a 22 minute documentary on the making of 'Incident at Loch Ness'. It is a surprisingly info packed feature for something with such a short running time. There are also some stills and outtakes scattered about. The bonus features, hidden or not make the dvd pretty loaded and I only wish there had been a longer doc’ on the making of the film.

All Together = ****
I really enjoyed 'Incident at Loch Ness'. The only qualm I had with the film is I wanted more horror/ action. That being said, what the film does, it does well. As I said, being a film dork, I suspect, helps with your enjoyment of this movie. Knowing who Werner Herzog is and being a fan of his work would also help. I loved seeing Herzog get to play the hero role and to his credit, the man basically carries the movie. Penn too, deserves credit for making an entertaining feature and for making himself the foil. The DVD is feature loaded (many of which are hidden.) If you are just curious it is probably rental material otherwise I give it a high recommendation.


'Incident at Loch Ness' Links:


Roger Ebert's Review (Which is how I found out about the film. It is a great review and since the film never played near me it was also the primary reason that I checked it out.)

Copyright 2005 - 2012 Nate Bundy. All rights reserved.