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

Updated: Feb 12

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 to no one’s surprise that most of these supposed sightings are in fact hoaxes. Clever ones, but hoaxes regardless. However, what happens when these hoaxes to get attention turn into something far more sinister?

After three female influencers are attacked by the creature known as “Tahoe Joe”, one of them, Evie, contracts former Green Beret Michael Rock to find one of her missing friends who is believed to still be up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Rock contacts his good friend and film director Dillon Brown to help him find the missing influencer. Although hesitant due to the number of people going missing after watching their documentary on Tahoe Joe, Brown eventually agrees. As the two embark up in the mountains, they soon run into who they think are a group of hikers recreating the Tahoe Joe experience. Brown gets attacked by a creature who appears to be Tahoe Joe and Rock shoots it, only to find out that it was a woman dressed as Tahoe Joe. The two are captured by the group they thought were hikers, only to find out they are indeed a group of animal poachers who kill those who go searching for Tahoe Joe all while searching for the Cryptid themselves.

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 conspiracy theorists or idiotic influencers. 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, it is much harder than you’d expect. Probably my favorite scene is where they discover a decapitated corpse (who we find out is Joshua Brucker, the director of The Woodmen) and proceed to rob him of his money, planning on using it to fund future projects. Usually subtle jabs and Easter eggs like this would annoy me, but this was actually seamlessly integrated into the film.

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. It makes fun of stupid trends people do for social media clout and how dangerous these trends may be. In fact, the whole reason why Dillon and Mike go up to the Sierra Nevada Mountains is due to someone going missing due to a stupid challenge to find Tahoe Joe. It really goes to show how stupid people often get themselves in serious, life threatening trouble. Additionally, I do enjoy how the film pokes fun at the costume for Tahoe Joe in the first film, which was just a ghillie suit and gorilla mask.

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. There were some parts that even reminded me of the more visceral elements of The Woodmen, such as the sound design and presence of something lurking in the woods just beyond your range of sight. Speaking of the sound, I was really impressed with how creative the sound design team was (courtesy of Rob Livings’ film students). 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.

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 threats, both realistic and supernatural and encounter 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…

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 being watched by evil lurkers in the woods, Tahoe Joe 2 will keep you thoroughly entertained. Delving into the world of conspiracy theories and hoaxes while cleverly taking jabs at influencer culture, 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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