Monday Movie: Incident at Loch Ness
Incident at Loch Ness blurs the lines between reality and fiction in a really creative and slightly maddening way. I found this film after a trip to Scotland, which included a stop at Loch Ness. IMDB lists it as an adventure/horror/comedy. I think that is all true but it also more than that. The film starts as a documentary about famous film director Werner Herzog titled Herzog in Wonderland being made by John Bailey. Herzog is starting his own film within the Herzog in Wonderland documentary with Hollywood screenwriter Zac Penn. At some point the two films become mingled with one other until they become this one film Incident at Loch Ness.
We see Herzog and his film crew: Penn (director), Gabriel Bernstain (cinematographer), Russell Williams (sound), David Davidson (P.A.), Michael Karnow (cryptozoologist), and Kitana Baker (sonar operator) go out on the loch on a small boat. Penn’s vision of their hunt for the monster differs greatly from Herzog’s and there is a great deal of tension on board the boat. When Penn puts a fake Nessie in the loch Herzog has had enough, but that is when things really ramp up. A mysterious, sizeable creature begins to attack the boat from below.
I think what I like so much about Incident at Loch Ness is the blurred lines between reality and fiction. Herzog in Wonderland isn’t the real film you’re watching, neither is the film Penn and Herzog are making. Some of the people in the film are real and others are playing extreme versions of themselves which boarder on characters. This melding of truth and fiction keeps you off kilter as a viewer so when “Nessie” shows up it feel plausible within the world of whatever film which we’re actually watching.
I have to give credit to Penn in particular who isn’t afraid, and in fact goes out of his way, to look like a self-obsessed jerk in this film. In many ways he is the villain of the piece. Herzog also gives a great performance. He is such a naturally intense person that he doesn’t really need to do much “acting”. He also provides a lot of the humor in the earlier portions of the film. There is something about watching Herzog shop for razors that is charming and funny. He also points out a lot of the absurdities of Penn’s actions and plans, for example ‘Expedition’ is spelled wrong on the jumpsuits Penn wants everyone to wear.
Incident at Loch is a fun, strange film that I think anyone would enjoy, especially Herzog fans. It is a delightful blend of his bleak view of film and life, Penn’s Hollywood dreams, and a faux-documentary all woven together in a single film.