I’m a little behind the ball, but I just read Max Brooks’ most recent novel, Devolution, which is about -- of all things -- the Bigfoot mythos. The book has already been picked up by Legendary Pictures, which is apropos, since that’s the studio behind the MonsterVerse, so it will hopefully make its way to the big screen (or streaming) someday in the not-so-distant future. I should be happy, right? I mean, I absolutely loved the novel, so I should be looking forward to the movie. Right? But then, I remember the World War Z adaptation, and now, I’m a little bit nervous.
That’s not to say that World War Z is a bad movie. In fact, I actually like it. It’s a perfectly competent zombie flick with equal parts thrills and chills. It’s just not the book, and that’s the problem. Because unlike a lot of other book-to-movie adaptations that have at least a semblance of the source material in them, the World War Z movie has pretty much nothing to do with the book other than the name, and it doesn’t even do that right (The full title of the book is actually World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War). So, what I like to see end up in the movie? Well, I’ll tell you…Oh, and I’ll try to be good as there won’t be too many spoilers up ahead.
I mentioned in the intro how World War Z had a longer title than just World War Z. Well, the book, Devolution has a longer title as well, and it’s Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre. The difference might not seem important, but it is, since the events in the book—and I don’t consider this is a spoiler given the title—have already happened, just like in World War Z, which is supposed to be an oral HISTORY of the zombie war. And this changes everything.
In Devolution, an interviewer is actually finding out what happened with the “Sasquatch Massacre,” after the fact, and the book combines journal entries with interviews from experts in the field of cryptozoology. And while I don’t think it’s essential that the movie has to follow the exact structure of the novel, I do think it’s key that the movie be done with a more clinical approach. World War Z was great as a film, but it kind of failed the whole historical-feeling aspect of the novel, which was, in my opinion, one of the best parts about the book. But that’s just a part of what I think the movie needs to nail down to be done right. There’s more.
The Setting Must Be In An Isolated Location Near A Volcano
The story takes place in a fictional community called Greenloop in Washington, just south of Seattle. The location is very important, as it takes place by the very real Mt. Rainier. And after something happens with the volcano, it leads to the catastrophic events that take place in the story. In other words, the volcano is utterly crucial to the plot. But there’s more, and it has to actually do with the community itself.
You see, the name Greenloop is fitting since the community is trying to go entirely green as it relies on solar power and even fecal power. But this turns out to be a huge mistake on the community’s part, since they don’t really take the dangers of nature all too seriously at first. Nor do they have the means to take on monsters once something happens to the power. Think of it like a horror movie where the teens get killed having sex because they think everything will be fine even though they’re really putting themselves out in the open.
That’s kind of how this story operates. But at the same time, it’s also a commentary on how overly connected we are to our “smart” devices, which is kind of making us dumb in the long run. Or naïve might be a better word for it. I just don’t want any of that biting commentary to get lost in the film adaptation like it did in World War Z, that’s all.
The Human Element
Bigfoot has had lots of movies over the years, but what really makes Devolution special is the human element. There are long stretches of the novel where there really isn’t much at all to do with the Bigfoot mythos. Instead, we really get to know these characters, who are all fleshed out and intriguing with rich, interesting backstories.
Because another problem I had with World War Z was that even though the story was actually focused on one specific family (and Brad Pitt was the patriarch!), you always kind of felt like the characters were secondary to the zombies. And while the zombies were cool, it kind of left me a little empty since I didn’t care about any of the characters. So, get that right, Legendary. Make this a human story. Not a Bigfoot story. Or a Bigfeet story, which brings me to my next point.
There Must Be Multiple Sasquatch Monsters
Okay, this is the only semi-spoiler I think I’m putting here, but there need to be multiple Sasquatch monsters in the movie, since there are multiple Sasquatch monsters in the book. And they’re all really unique.
So, here’s my concern. Legendary might cheap out and just make one sasquatch monster. I’m not insinuating that Legendary’s cheap, or anything like that. I mean, I’m sure Godzilla vs. Kong costs a lot of money to make. But I can see it now—Bad inciting incident occurs, panic ensues, and one Bigfoot monster comes to terrorize the community. It’s just easier that way, especially if they go with CG. But don’t make it easy, Legendary. Make a whole family of monsters. It will be so much better that way. And now, just one more request.
It Must Take Sasquatch Seriously And Not Treat The Bigfoot Mythos As A Joke
Look, I’m not saying that Legendary Pictures is going to make this Harry and the Hendersons, 2021 edition (or whatever year the movie ends up happening). But World War Z was a PG-13-rated zombie movie (who does that?), so I kind of get the feeling that this movie will not be taken as brutally seriously as Max Brooks intends for it to be.
In the book, the Bigfoot mythos is treated with just as much respect and adoration as the zombie mythos was treated in World War Z. Here, we get vivid descriptions and a true sense of fear with these creatures. And I’m a bit concerned that the movie might cheapen this story somehow. Again, it happened with World War Z. So, why wouldn’t it happen with Devolution? You answer me that.
And those are just a few of the aspects that I feel the movie needs to nail to do the book justice. But what do you think? Have you read Devolution yet? Do you think my worries are unfounded? Sound off in the comments section below.
Rich is a Jersey boy, through and through. He graduated from Rutgers University (Go, R.U.!), and thinks the Garden State is the best state in the country. That said, he’ll take Chicago Deep Dish pizza over a New York slice any day of the week. Don’t hate. When he’s not watching his two kids, he’s usually working on a novel, watching vintage movies, or reading some obscure book.
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