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Beastly Brilliance: SASQUATCH SUNSET Unleashes Hilarious, Heartfelt Tale

Bigfoot in playing with a bug in a field
Jesse Eisenberg in Bleecker Street's SASQUATCH SUNSET | Photo courtesy of Bleecker Street

By Amylou Ahava

SASQUATCH SUNSET is an intriguing and hilarious dive into the lives of mythical creatures, which blends absurdism with futurism in (perhaps) a post-apocalyptic setting. The Zellner brothers, David and Nathan, deliver a bizarre comedy that explores the secret lives of Sasquatches. Yes, those legendary, hairy beasts rumored to roam North American wilderness are the entire focus of the movie. The Zellners offer a unique twist of nonverbal storytelling, which this brotherly pair is quite familiar with. In 2001, the siblings released Frontier, which followed members of the fictional country Bulbovia, and the characters spoke the equally fictitious language Bulbovian. So, as no stranger to constructing a story with no discernable dialogue, the Zellners decided to venture deeper into the world of storytelling and get lost in the forest where we only have grunts and howls to communicate. SASQUATCH SUNSET is a beastly blend of comedy, drama, and environmental messages, all wrapped up in a big, hairy package.

The movie takes us into the wild world of four Sasquatches (a female and three males) as they go about their daily routines. From eating plants to cleaning each other to having loud, enthusiastic sex, this film is not Harry and the Hendersons. Played by Riley Keough (the matriarch), Jesse Eisenberg (a Sasquatch coming of age), Nathan Zellner (the patriarch), and Christophe Zajac-Denek (the child), these hairy critters stumble upon human artifacts like a red cross, a cut tree log, and even a road, which they find as terrifying as a monster. Their antics, from getting drunk on blackberries to slinging turds at birds, will have you roaring with laughter.

The Zellner brothers' genius lies in the film's simplicity. With no dialogue, the Sasquatches communicate through gestures and actions, which creates a primal yet relatable story. The costumes are well done (and anatomically correct), which allows the actors to perform very emotional and detailed facial expressions, and the prosthetics (both facial and otherwise) create realistic creatures to admire. Riley Keough shines as the mother Sasquatch as she balances maternal instincts with survival challenges. And within the film, we also witness the saddest moment in Sasquatch cinema history since John Lithgow yelled at Harry to go away.

Aside from the furry horny foursome, the landscape in the film is as wild as the creatures themselves, with lush forests and misty mountains setting the stage for this hairy-tale adventure. Shot in northern California (where Bigfoot sightings have been reported), the film's locations add to its immersive experience. The dense and untamed forests provide the perfect backdrop for the Sasquatch family's adventures. The score by the Austin-based band The Octopus Project complements the landscape and creates a sense of wonder and adventure as the furry four navigate their environment.

 And even with all the jokes and bodily fluids aside, the filmmakers also cleverly weave in themes of deforestation and the loss of animals' natural habitats. As the Sasquatch family roams through the wilderness, they encounter signs of human activity, like sawed-down trees and abandoned campsites. These subtle cues hint at the encroachment of civilization into the animals' territory and highlight the impact humans have on the environment. It’s implied that the Sasquatch travel through the wilderness because they struggle to find more of their kind. This further pushes the narrative that human activity is destroying a species they never even met. By showcasing the Sasquatch's journey against the backdrop of a changing landscape, SASQUATCH SUNSET serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of preserving nature and respecting the habitats of all creatures (mythical or otherwise). 

In the end, SASQUATCH SUNSET is a hairy good time and a wild ride through the wilderness with unexpected laughs and heartfelt moments. The acting is Sasquatch-tacular, with Riley Keough, Jesse Eisenberg, and the rest of the cast delivering performances that bring these mythical creatures to life with humor and heart. And under the direction of the Zellner brothers, they balance the film’s comedic and dramatic elements beautifully. It's definitely a film that proves there's more to Bigfoot than meets the eye and that sometimes, the most beastly creatures can teach us the most human lessons. 

SASQUATCH SUNSET had its Texas Premiere at SXSW and will be in select theaters April 12, 2024 and nationwide April 19, 2024.


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