‘Sasquatch Sunset’ Review: Environmental Optimism Against The Odds

0
114
Sasquatch Sunset (2024) © ZBI
Sasquatch Sunset (2024) © ZBI

An inevitability with the Zellner brothers’ latest, perhaps even an encouragement, is that one’s mind drifts from time to time. As a family of densely furred, oddly expressive Bigfeet amble through the Californian wilds, it’s tempting to imagine the rehearsal period that preceded the film’s production, and later the production itself.

★★★☆☆

Did its unrecognisable stars (Riley Keough, Jesse Eisenberg, Christophe Zajac-Denek and Nathan Zellner himself) go method, laying waste to craft services with much the same hooting, hollering abandon as their characters? Were messages to loved ones delivered in the language of grunts and growls cultivated onscreen? What if passers-by had happened upon the production? What might Werner Herzog have made of it all?

Most pointedly, and poignantly, certain viewers may find themselves thinking of Dinosaurs, the Jim Henson-conceived family sitcom that concluded on a note bleak enough  to freshly acquaint a dozen children with their own fragile mortality. They may recall the family patriarch attempting to break the difficult news of the ice age’s imminence to his family, copping to his own culpability in hastening the end of their world by thinking only of progress at nature’s expense. “It’s not like we’re going to just…disappear”, he declares, his quaver of hesitation saying it all. Staring down their own imminent deaths, this family of folksy dinosaurs seems more heart-rendingly human than ever before; and in its slow-burn fashion, the Zellners achieve much the same for their shaggy subjects here.

Sasquatch Sunset (2024) © ZBI

For much of Sasquatch Sunset, the filmmakers seem largely content to focus on the smaller goal of removing mystique—and with it, any hint of dignity—from the Bigfoot legend. Mild in intelligence and fiercely unhygienic, the creatures spend their days in pursuit of food, shelter, sex and the feat of finally counting past three.  Sometimes they succeed in one goal at the expense of another, such as when the alpha (Zellner, the most consistently funny of the four) gains an unfortunate craving for the wrong kind of berries, becoming too ill-mannered even for the company of his cohorts.

Still, there are relatable moments too. The group’s lone female (Keough, improbably soulful through mounds of prosthetics) appears to increasingly favour her own company. In solitary moments she appears melancholy, even reflective. Her eyes fill with a wholly human terror when faced with her first look at a man-made road, and in its broad way, her explosive response is plenty human too. No humans are seen in Sasquatch Sunset, but it’s clear their world is encroaching on that of Sasquatch, whose already tenuous position grows ever more fragile. Like many a rare species, they’re simply in the way.

Sasquatch Sunset (2024) © ZBI

Admittedly, there are times when one wishes the film were more enjoyable on a moment-to-moment basis, though one can hardly say they haven’t gotten bang for their buck. Having come for Sasquatch, one duly receives it for the next 90 minutes, but therein lies the paradox. There is both more to the film than a one-joke premise and, perhaps, not enough to sustain a whole feature. The commitment to the bit proves admirable throughout, but only in small stretches does the film feel wholly immersive; its characters feeling like fully realised beings instead of idle speculation cheekily brought to life. Still, what lingers most is ultimately the sincerity of the faint hope the Zellners hold for the natural world, holding on by a defiant thread. 

The Verdict

Though it may at times test patience, adventurous viewers would do well to approach with the same openhearted curiosity the filmmakers grant their subjects.

Words by Thomas Messner

Sasquatch Sunset is in UK cinemas from 14 June 2024.


Support The Indiependent 

We’re trying to raise £200 a month to help cover our operational costs. This includes our ‘Writer of the Month’ awards, where we recognise the amazing work produced by our contributor team. If you’ve enjoyed reading our site, we’d really appreciate it if you could donate to The Indiependent. Whether you can give £1 or £10, you’d be making a huge difference to our small team.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here