“Sasquatch Sunset”


Metacritic (7/10), Letterboxd (3.5/5), Imdb.com (7/10), TMDB.com (7/10)

Movies that provide us with an inside look at the lives of communities different from our own can show us just how much alike – and not alike – the constituencies of those cultures truly are from our own. It’s especially intriguing when such films cross species lines, examining societies of beings different from ourselves, an undertaking tackled in the latest project from the acting-writing-directing duo of David and Nathan Zellner. Known for such offbeat releases as “The Art of Self-Defense” (2019) and “Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter” (2014), this time out the filmmaking siblings present a documentary-style look at a year in the lives of a bigfoot family of four inhabiting the forests of Northern California. The camera follows them through a variety of everyday situations not unlike what we as humans go through, only in a totally different milieu. The film features an array of comedic and dramatic circumstances to which we can all undoubtedly relate, often on a very “earthy,” unrestrained level, involving activities in which we all engage but rarely talk about. Told in four acts, this release beautifully captures their experience of life in the woods, with exquisite visuals of Northwestern landscapes and diverse forest wildlife, along with curious, entirely natural expressions of individuals discovering the myriad elements of a world that they have come to believe is their own. But is it? As they come upon scenarios that are anomalous from what they have typically known, they must learn to adapt when evidence emerges that their world could be drastically changing – even vanishing – before their very eyes. In that sense, then, the film quietly delivers a strong environmental message (aptly timed for an Earth Day release) that we should heed in light of the unsettling experience of this picture’s unique protagonists. While the film’s sequences at times become somewhat repetitive and feature more than their share of undoubtedly base humor, this offering is nevertheless entertaining, clever and thought-provoking, enhanced by its stunning cinematography, emotive original score, and stellar makeup and prosthetics. Despite these assets, however, some have dismissively and capriciously compared this production to an extended Saturday Night Live sketch or a parody of the opening sequence of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968). But those analogies unfairly sell this one short as a vehicle that will simultaneously make viewers both laugh and think. With an economical 1:28:00 runtime and a fine cast of actors portraying the quartet of uncannily prescient primates (Jesse Eisenberg, Riley Keough, Nathan Zellner, Christophe Zajac-Denek), “Sasquatch Sunset” makes an intriguing watch, provided that viewers give it a fair shake. Indeed, if we’re ever to reach a new level of understanding about those who are different from us and with whom we share this world, not to mention the impact we have on one another, we should make an effort to grasp what this offering is trying to tell us – while we still have the time to do so for both of us.