Chupacabra Territory Blu-ray Review

Monster folklore comes to life in this indie thriller

Chupacabra Territory may not have a single original idea in its 94 minutes, but its meat-and-potatoes horror storytelling should satisfy indie fans looking for creature scares and a few unintentional laughs. The biggest problem in Chupacabra Territory is its complete and utter devotion to the found-footage format. Popular with independent filmmakers because it’s infinitely cheaper to produce than a conventionally staged horror movie, Chupacabra Territory embraces the technique with mindless enthusiasm. This is watchable indie horror but keep your expectations in check.

The story is simple with a fairly common set-up for horror. Four twenty-something friends hike into the Pinewood Forest to find evidence of the Chupacabra, a mythical animal believed to be responsible for the disappearance of previous hikers. Director Matthew McWilliams embraces just about every found-footage cliché possible in his debut feature. Shakey camerawork; night-vision; recovered footage long after everyone is dead; it’s all here and more. Some will find that charming and some will find it frustrating, so you have been warned.

Coming from Mexican folklore, the Chupacabra is a relatively new legend that first gained fame during the 1990s. Loosely meaning “goatsucker” in Spanish, the Chupacabra is a mythical beast that prays on livestock. I first remember hearing of the legend on the X-Files, which quickly spread its frightening reputation seemingly overnight throughout American pop culture.

Chupacabra Territory comes up with a fairly convincing, original representation of the fearsome creatures


Since there isn’t a real unifying mythology for the Chupacabra beyond a few attributes, Chupacabra Territory comes up with a fairly convincing, original representation of the fearsome creatures. The special effects are rather good for independent filmmaking. If anything, more money shots of the creatures would have helped the film a great deal. There is visceral pay-off if you wait long enough but the action drags a bit during Chupacabra Territory’s slow first act.

The characters are a mishmash of strong personalities. Joe (Michael Reed) and Amber (Sarah Nicklin) are interested in finding evidence of a Chupacabra. Amber is a free spirit, a self-proclaimed witch that also acts as a medium. Joe has a thing for Amber, which suddenly come into play when Amber gets the idea she needs to have sex to channel the spirit of the Chupacabra. Chupacabra Territory is not above providing gratuitous sex and nudity when needed.

Their friend Morgan (Alex Hayek) is mostly along for the ride, skeptical of this whole business. Dave (Bryant Jansen) is the forgotten character, as much of the film is told through the camera attached to his head. He’s mostly there to document the happenings and watch things fall apart during the camping trip.

Chupacabra Territory is a mixed bag of horror treats. The acting isn’t bad and its scares ramp up in an over-the-top final act fairly well. But tepid pacing and inconsistent editing dull the derivative movie’s frights. You have to be completely ‘in’ on found-footage horror movies to unironically enjoy Chupacabra Territory.

Video

Say what you will on the merits of Chupacabra Territory as a film but it looks surprisingly clean in HD for a low-budget, indie production. Independent distributor Maltauro Entertainment puts out the 94-minute main feature on a BD-25.

Encoded in a fairly strong AVC encode without compression artifacts, this is crisp 1080P video at the standard 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Its video is sharp with outstanding clarity, if you can tolerate the found-footage quirks so common to the genre. Clarity and definition obviously drops in the scenes with camera tricks like night-vision or when the footage has been “damaged” from wear.

Daylight exteriors have a glossy, bright appearance. The contrast in them could be slightly better, some highlights are blown out. There isn’t much material to push the film’s black levels outside of a few night scenes. Independent video seemingly gets better looking each year with the advent of newer digital cameras. When you add the stylistic found-footage aesthetic on top, it covers up a multitude of picture issues often found in low-budget productions.

Audio

The 2.0 Dolby Digital soundtrack at 448 kbps is a better indicator of this movie’s low-budget origins. The sound design is unimpressive for a modern horror film. Its dialogue is certainly intelligible and occasional Foley effects are heard in crystal-clear sound quality, but Chupacabra Territory has an uninviting, plain audio presentation.

Optional English SDH subtitles display in a white font.

Extras

Maltauro Entertainment releases Chupacabra Territory in a clear Blu-ray case, which has become more popular in recent years for niche releases. A couple of brief featurettes with cast and crew interviews are included. You would think a commentary for a low-budget horror movie would be a no-brainer but it’s missing. The Blu-ray is coded for all regions.

An Interview With The Cast (10:44 in HD) – This making-of featurette offers insight from several different people with the production, including the main cast.

An Interview With The Director, Editor and Producer (06:23 in HD) – Writer/ Director Matthew McWilliams discusses his initial inspiration behind the movie, among others.

Chupacabra Territory Trailer (01:43 in HD)

Photo Gallery (All in HD)

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not influenced DoBlu’s editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

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