Sasquatch Sunset

We’ve seen sasquatch movies before. Harry & the Hendersons, The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot, and Willow Creek are just three examples. Even if you’ve seen them and all the others, nothing will prepare you for Sasquatch Sunset. Nothing. This is the Citizen Kane of Bigfoot films.

It follows a family of Sasquatches, played by utterly unrecognizable stars Jesse Eisenberg and Riley Keough, along with Nathan Zellner and Christope Zajac-Denek. You won’t find much in the way of plot here. Instead, Sasquatch Sunset is a series of scenes observing what the perpetually grunting beasts do. That includes everything from hunting for food to discovering evidence of a logging operation. A fair amount of the comedy is sexual in nature, as Eisenberg’s character is constantly banging his fists together, a sign that he wants action. His raging Sasquatch erection is another tipoff. (Not in a billion years did I think I would ever write such a sentence.)

The appeal is twofold. The movie works phenomenally as a comedy. A scene where the Sasquatches encounter a road for the first time made me laugh harder than anything I’ve seen so far this year. Lots of other scenes similarly create laughter because certain actions are just funnier when a Sasquatch does them. No dialogue exists anywhere in the movie, meaning the actors must rely on their physicality. The effect is not unlike viewing an old Charlie Chaplin or Harold Lloyd silent feature. Humor springs from the bodily movements as they move through a series of increasingly wacky scenarios.

Running side by side with that is a surprising philosophical vibe. Sasquatch Sunset shows its characters eating, drinking, grooming, having sex, taking care of toileting needs, seeking amusement, getting testy with each other, caring for their young, and mourning the dead. In other words, they do the stuff we all do. Seeing the Sasquatches engage in identifiable activities serves as a reminder of how similar most living beings are. We may not look alike, live in identical habitats, or communicate in the same language, but we have more in common than we often choose to be aware of.

Sasquatch Sunset comes from directors David and Nathan Zellner, whose Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter is one of the biggest hidden gems of our time. (Seriously, find it and see it.) They know how to marry eccentricity with heart, a combination that’s in full effect on their latest venture. What begins with raucous mayhem eventually deepens into an exploration of what it means to be alive. Don’t be surprised to find yourself getting choked up once or twice.

Buried beneath first-rate prosthetics and costumes, the four actors are convincing as the creatures, investing them with individual personalities. If we felt we were just watching them play dress-up, the movie would never work. Across the board, they commit to the material. Sasquatch Sunset subsequently casts a unique spell. It’s an oddball masterpiece that’s destined for cult greatness.


out of four

Sasquatch Sunset is rated R for some sexual content, full nudity, and bloody images. The running time is 1 hour and 29 minutes.

Universal

© 2024 Mike McGranaghan