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  Incident at Loch Ness Fishy Footage
Year: 2004
Director: Zak Penn
Stars: Werner Herzog, Zak Penn, Gabriel Beristain, Russell Williams, Steven Gardner, Michael Karnow, Robert O'Meara, Kitana Baker, David A. Davidson, John Bailey, Lena Herzog, Jeff Goldblum, Ricky Jay, Crispin Glover
Genre: Comedy, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: In 2003 filmmaker John Bailey was shooting his own documentary about cult German director Werner Herzog and his experiences in Hollywood, to be titled Herzog in Wonderland. It started well with Herzog showing Bailey around his home, displaying a few of the props for his movies and inviting him to a party in his house later on that evening. At this time Herzog was planning a new film, a documentary of his own in fact, which was to be produced by screenwriter Zak Penn as his first foray in the producer's role. The topic of the documentary was to be the Loch Ness Monster, and the myths surrounding it, but once they reached Scotland they found more than they bargained for...

The influence of a certain fake paranormal documentary is felt pretty strongly over Incident at Loch Ness, and like The Blair Witch Project a controversy erupted around it concerning whether it was all true or an elaborate hoax. Surely the respected Herzog, now with a number of bona fide, well reviewed documentaries under his belt, would not be involved in anything fake, and the stories surrounding the production, chief among them that there was a tragic incident connected with an accident on the Loch while they were filming, sounded convincing enough.

However, the story of the Loch Ness Monster, like the film, sounds fairly plausible until you do some research into it. There could be a creature unknown to science living there, but chances are there isn't. There could have been a disastrous production half-made about the legend, but it becomes plain as this film goes on that it is ridiculous. Starting cleverly, with recognisable, presumably respectable guests to the party such as Ricky Jay or Jeff Goldblum airing their opinions, it affects an air of authenticity and a pretence of seriousness about its subject that could draw in the unwary viewer, with its handheld camerawork and fly-on-the-wall style.

Once Herzog arrives in Scotland, the comedy aspect begins to play up as they assemble the cast of characters. There are assistants, a cinematographer, a sound man and the captain of the boat they will be using, most of whom are offered the chance to put their side of the story to the camera in interviews apparently filmed after the fact, and all of whom end up falling out with each other at some point. While Herzog wants to make a genuine, even semi-mystical documentary about Loch Ness, Penn has other, more impatient ideas as we see when he brings his Hollywood sensibilities to bear on the small, intimate project.

Penn calls in an eccentric cryptozoologist for authority, designs boiler suits for the crew to wear, and then introduces the sonar operator who is obviously a Playboy model, all against Herzog's wishes. The crassness of Tinseltown's power elite is mercilessly sent up in the form of Penn, which is a curious bedfellow with the revenge of nature plot that emerges as the real monster (as opposed to the remote controlled one Penn has brought) makes its presence felt. As a study of the quality of belief, Incident at Loch Ness is too insincere to be taken seriously, but as a spoof it is amusing and rarely lets its mask slip, and the cast and locations crucially ring true. Even the special effects aren't overdone. Music by Henning Lohner.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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