Remember all the 1970s’ Southern-fried cryptozoological flicks like “The Legend Boggy Creek”? The moonshine-infused spirit on those no-budget docudramas is bottled, shaken and spilled in “The Wild Man of the Navidad,” an anarchic-in-inception film on one of nature’s unnatural.
Dale S. Rogers (co-writer and co-director Justin Meeks) is a welder in the dirt-poor, redneck rural town outside of Sublime, Texas. He lives with his invalid wife and her shirtless caretaker on land inhabited by a Bigfoot-esque beast, who stops by their front porch every night at 9 for table scraps.
When Dale is fired, he opens up his property for cash to hunters eager to shoot game there. Dale knows the demonic “Wild Man” is out there, but the hunters don’t. They find out soon enough, but so few of them live to tell.
Reportedly, the film was shot on $7,000, and looks it. But by casting it in the style of drive-in trash, they’re not only able to get away with it, but accomplish a lot. Great performances is not among that; although Meeks is fine as the stoic center, he and partner Duane Graves have cast nonprofessional locals in various roles, and their line readings are stilted and obvious.
“Wild Man” is worth watching more to see what the Meeks/Graves team did, rather than how it turned out. It’s not a “good” movie, but it’s an interesting, even brave exercise in DIY filmmaking. In the intro, producer Kim Henkel (“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”) calls the boys “dangerous.” I believe him.