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Film / Incident At Loch Ness

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A 2004 Mockumentary written, produced by and starring Werner Herzog and Zak Penn As Themselves, as the director and producer of a fictitious documentary about the Loch Ness Monster called Enigma of Loch Ness. Herzog is interested in the psychological significance of Nessie and other paranormal phenomena, which he believes to be purely imaginary, while Penn just wants to sell movie tickets. Neither has any expectation of encountering an actual monster.

Meanwhile, the film crew are themselves being filmed by a second crew under director John Bailey, who are producing the also-fictitious documentary Herzog in Wonderland, the salvaged pieces of which are then used to make the "actual" documentary Incident at Loch Ness. Essentially a documentary (Enigma) within a documentary (Wonderland) within a mockumentary (Incident). While we're at it, Enigma of Loch Ness was in real life promoted as if it were a real documentary being made by Herzog in 2003.

Incident at Loch Ness provides examples of:

  • Adam Westing: Herzog and Penn wrote and played themselves as, respectively, a highly eccentric and uptight director, and the sleaziest producer imaginable.
  • Artist Disillusionment: In-Universe, Herzog sets off in search of some "ecstatic truth" about the psychology behind the Loch Ness phenomenon, and by the end finds that the truth "seemed vulgar and pointless" after catching film of what appears to be an actual monster in the loch.
  • As Himself: Almost the entire cast.
  • Bar Brawl: Some locals try to start one when they think the film crew are filming a "hoax," but it pretty much begins and ends with Karnow getting hit in the face.
  • Berserk Button: Herzog hates being lied to and scenes being shot for his film without him knowing.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Kitana Baker does some background research for her "role" as the sonar operator. As a result, she's the only one who actually knows how to work the sonar.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Cryptozoologist Michael Karnow comes off as this. It turns out he, like Baker, is just another actor Penn hired.
  • Dirty Coward: Penn becomes this when the others discover that he and the assistant director snuck away on the life-raft, leaving the others in a sinking boat.
  • Doing It for the Art: In-Universe example. Herzog nearly quits over Penn's antics, but decides to stay because he hates to have a film production fail on his account.
  • Epic Fail: Penn trying to scare Herzog into filming the fake Nessie. Herzog just stares and points out that Penn is threatening him with a flare gun. An unloaded one, even.
  • Fanservice: The only reason Penn hires Baker, best-known as a softcore actress and Playboy model.
  • Foreshadowing: The film opens with a shot of a dead body, and neither Karnow nor Robert O'Meara appear in the post-expedition interviews that are interspersed throughout the film.
  • Never Found the Body: Karnow disappears and is presumed to have been eaten by Nessie.
  • Never My Fault: Penn blames other people for the boat's engine failure and the fact that they can't radio for help, but the footage shows that he's responsible for both those things.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: Appropriately enough, the event itself is an apocryphal one from Herzog's real-life career. Penn tries to pull a turnabout of the infamous incident when Herzog directed actor Klaus Kinski at gunpoint, which, as Herzog points out, never actually happened.
  • Real After All: Near the end of the film, the boat is sunk by, presumably, Nessie.
  • Shout-Out: The ending plays out similarly to Jaws, with the boat disabled and sinking after being struck. The poster (see above) also looks pretty Jaws-like.
  • Stock Ness Monster: The movie is about Herzog and Penn making a documentary about the Loch Ness Monster, only for their production crew be attacked by what is heavily implied to be the real Nessie.
  • Straight Man: While Herzog's not exactly ordinary himself (he is playing Werner Herzog, after all), he pretty much plays this role to Penn's screwiness.
  • The Unsolved Mystery: The entire appearance of the monster and whether it was a very complex hoax that Penn was behind is never answered.