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  • Writer's pictureBen Pivoz

Sasquatch Sunset


A family of sasquatches exists in the forest in Sasquatch Sunset (Distributed by Bleecker Street Media)

I tend to appreciate movies that attempt something I have not seen before. A new premise or approach is always welcome, especially in this time of a seemingly endless supply of sequels, remakes and retreads. Sasquatch Sunset is certainly different. Essentially a faux nature documentary, with no dialogue, it is intermittently interesting, buoyed by an impressive commitment to the bit from its cast and crew. What initially seems like a goofy put-on is actually deeper and a little more thematically ambitious than you’d expect. It doesn’t entertain consistently enough for this to be a total success, but it is a fascinating oddity.


The premise is simple: we watch a family of sasquatches living in a forest over a lengthy period of time. They explore, eat, have sex, deal with various bodily fluids and discover the dangers of their environment. There are plenty of gross moments and gags about how dumb they are, yet this is mainly them being curious. There is something unique in knowing we are seeing the made-up habits and traditions of creatures that do not exist – seeing them live in the now, with no real concept of the future encroaching on their lives – being acted out by heavily costumed performers. The combination of the wonder of their existence and the sillier material doesn’t coexist well. Though there is enough here that I can’t dismiss it.


Just observing these four creatures, portrayed by Jesse Eisenberg, Riley Keough, Christophe Zajac-Denek and co-director Nathan Zellner, build, eat, encounter other animals and get themselves into trouble, all while communicating through grunts and wild gestures, can be amusing and engaging. It can also be dull and distancing. There is thematic material about the beauty of the natural world, the smallness of individual lives and the inevitability of progress. There is also a lot of pee and poop.

Sasquatch Sunset (85 minutes, without the end credits) is at once captivating and frustrating, funny and annoying, but always pretty clever. Nathan and David Zellner (who also wrote the screenplay) created an entire culture for their sasquatches. The way they move, the way they relate to each other, their eating habits, even the way they regard their surroundings feels very thoroughly conceived.


Forgoing a full-on nature documentary style by not having a narrator to further involve the viewer is probably for the best. The lack of recognizable dialogue can make it more engrossing, as though we are merely watching these beings like scientists would, or it can take us out of things, since it makes it a little more challenging to connect with them as characters. For me, both happened. Still, a narrator would have made things more obvious, less organic, and would have opened the door to easy mockery.


This is an odd movie and thus one it is difficult to review. I am glad I saw it. It is creative and one-of-a-kind. However, it is something I’d recommend to adventurous viewers who may be able to suspend their disbelief more effectively than I was mine. For everyone else? If you only see one dialogue-less faux-documentary about sasquatches, make it Sasquatch Sunset!

 

3 out of 5

 

Cast:

Riley Keough

Jesse Eisenberg

Christophe Zajac-Denek

Nathan Zellner

 

Directed by David Zellner and Nathan Zellner

Written by David Zellner

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