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Tahoe Joe 2 (2023)—A Suspenseful, Action-packed Adventure!

Updated: Apr 3

Who doesn’t love a good Bigfoot experience? One day you’re just hiking in the woods, the next moment you see what appears to be a tall, hairy humanoid being with tremendously large feet. Sometimes it’s aggressive, other times it just minds its own business. And a lot of times, these supposed sightings are just hoaxes. But what determines if a local legend is a hoax or if there is perhaps some truth to the tale? And just what if that tale involves people going missing?

After three female influencers are attacked in the Sierra Nevada Mountains by the creature known as “Tahoe Joe”, one of them, Evie, contacts former Green Beret Michael Rock to find one of her missing friends. Rock contacts his good friend and film director Dillon Brown to help him find the missing influencer. Although initially hesitant, Brown eventually agrees. As the two embark up in the mountains, they soon run into horrors beyond what either would experience. Being so deep into the woods and with no outside help, Brown and Rock find that this simple search and rescue mission could cost them their lives.   

Tahoe Joe in Tahoe Joe 2

Playing off of the humorous tone of the first film, Tahoe Joe 2 balances both humor and horror. I can never get enough of Michael Rock and Dillon Brown’s friendship and banter, especially whenever they poke fun at extremely rude critics of their first film. There’s a difference between being critical and jut being a plain asshole. You might think it’s easy to write dialogue that conveys friendship between two real friends, but as someone who tried to make a short film with a friend, it is much harder than you’d expect. Much like the first film, Tahoe Joe 2 lays the meta humor on thick. However, unlike the first one, the sequel is far more self-aware. While it never reaches Deadpool-esque levels of meta humor or Spider-Man levels of quips, I think Tahoe Joe 2 balances the humor and horror content far better than its predecessor. Hell, there are a handful of scenes that go from horrifying to humorous in a matter of minutes. And although I typically find this kind of self-aware humor to be a bit grating in most films, Tahoe Joe 2 successfully pulls it off.

Unlike the first film, Tahoe Joe 2 does a better job balancing the horror and comedy aspect, knowing when to be funny and when to get serious. Personally, I don’t usually have a fear of the woods (I’m more afraid of possibly getting lost), but Tahoe Joe 2 has made me that much more cautious whenever I go hiking. Brown manages to make the Sierra Nevada Mountains a character itself, giving it an eerie aura and sense of dread, like you’re being watched the moment you exit your vehicle. There were some parts that even reminded me of the more visceral elements of The Woodmen, such as the sound design which I was really impressed by (courtesy of Rob Livings’ film students) was. For instance, the crunching footsteps in the snow was made by walking on rice and the gory flesh-ripping sounds were created by crushing fruit and vegetables. This is what I mean when I say I love how creative indie films are. You have to make the best of what you have and in cases like this, really get creative to get the desired end product.

Michael Rock in Tahoe Joe 2

As a fan of 1980s action films and cheesy horror flicks, Dillon Brown likes to pay homage to both these genres. Without giving too much away, there is a nice blend of badass 1980s action reminiscent of James Cameron’s The Terminator where Michael’s history and experience as a Green Beret really shines through. In fact, the film almost feels like a soft homage to Resident Evil 4. A gun-wielding badass goes searching for a missing girl in the woods, and encounters various types of supernatural threats, and even encounters a wolf out in the wild. Hell, Mike even wears a similar jacket to the brown WWII leather bomber Leon Kennedy wears in the game. Now if only we saw him dodge moving lasers in a hallway and if Brown wore a blonde wig…

Tahoe Joe 2 is by far one of the most enjoyable films I’ve seen come out of the Horror Dadz Productions Cryptid cinematic universe. Full of both badass and cheesy 1908s style action coupled with the dreadful feeling of constantly being on high alert, Tahoe Joe 2 will keep you thoroughly entertained. Expanding on the mythos of the local legend of Tahoe Joe while still remaining true to the roots of the first film, Tahoe Joe 2 is not only another solid film under Dillon Brown and Michael Rock’s belts, but is a fun and thrilling ride that keeps you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end.

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