Did you know Werner Herzhog produced a found footage horror movie that stars director Zak Penn? Well if not, you’re welcome.
Incident at Loch Ness (2004)
A Tale of Two Movies
This movie is bit tricky to untangle because it essentially feels like two parallel movies being told at once. Zak Penn is trying to make a bigger action packed spectacle out of Herzog’s idea for a film about trying to find Loch Ness. This leads to Werner making a documentary about the making of the movie Zak Penn is helping to make. So for some cinematic shorthand : if Orson Welles’s F for Fake was about trying to find a cryptozoological wonder, you’d get a pretty similar movie to Incident at Loch Ness.
Honestly one of the most fun aspects of the film is how much of it bleeds into the actual film industry. At a dinner party that announces the kickoff of the film’s production, Herzhog has Jeff Goldblum in attendance (it’s a fun cameo- do docs have cameos?). Late in the film as Zak Penn talks about hiring some of the technical experts that worked on the Rush Hours films, Herzhog reaches out and gets Russel Williams (sound mixer for such epics like Glory and Dances with Wolves) and then Gabriel Beristain (a DP whose worked with Guillermo Del Toro before and has a long filmography). Honestly one of the greatest downfalls of this movie is that it’s probably more fun to talk about than it is to watch.
A Product of its Time
Shot on what appears to be decent quality minidv video, this movie definitely feels of a certain era. Mid 2000s the resurgence of the found footage subgenre hadn’t happened yet with Paranormal Activity still lurking on the horizon, but by no means was the genre dead. Instead it was in a weird phase where it was trying different stuff than just “people go to haunted woods/place and weird things happen with shaky cameras filming it”. I mention F for Fake before because this movie was originally made as a “real” documentary about this story. Given that it was Werner Herzog who was attached, wouldn’t have you just accepted it if you learned that he was planning on making a film about the Loch Ness monster?
Pictured above: a scene that feels like could have happened during the filming of any Herzhog film.
I guess that’s what makes this movie fun. There aren’t many things I can compare it too, and it feels like it only could have happened in that hazy not-too distant past of 15 years ago. The truth is stranger than fiction of it all coming together with real people with real egos but within fake scenarios (again, manufactured or not, I have no trouble believing Zak Penn and Werner Herzog would have difficulties getting along). I
t’s not the strongest of recommends, but this is an oddity worth checking out for being unique within a subgenre where so much of it feels pretty repetitive. Who’d have thought all it would take was one legendary monster and one legendary director?