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Sasquatch Sunset (15)

Cast: Christophe Zajac-Denek, Riley Keough, Jesse Eisenberg
Genre: Comedy
Author(s): David Zellner
Director: Nathan Zellner, David Zellner
Release Date: 14/06/2024 (selected cinemas)
Running Time: 88mins
Country: US
Year: 2024

LondonNet Film Review

Sasquatch Sunset (15) Film Review from LondonNet

Sir David Attenborough has been the soothing voice of the natural history world for decades, introducing generations of viewers to the majesty of our blue planet and various species that exist in uneasy harmony with our self-absorbed and destructive species. The veteran broadcaster has witnessed many extraordinary sights on land, in the sea and the air but it’s unlikely he will have ever seen a tribe of bigfoots urinating, lactating and defecating with wild delirium to mark their territory…

Bodily fluids overflow in filmmaking brothers David and Nathan Zellner’s hypnotic hike through the mist-cloaked forests of North America in the company of a ragtag tribe of human-like creatures. These hirsute wanderers, portrayed by Jesse Eisenberg, Riley Keough, Christophe Zajac-Denek and Nathan Zellner clad in full-body foam latex suits fashioned by creature and prosthetics designer Steve Newburn, are initially untouched by the so-called developed world. They graze contentedly on vegetation and bugs in wide open plains, lovingly comb fingers through each other’s fur to remove ticks and enthusiastically throw large stones into a river to catch an unfortunate fish.

Over the course of four seasons, lovingly captured by cinematographer Mike Gioulakis as if this were a documentary, a mated couple (Eisenberg, Keough), an elder male (Zellner) and an energetic youngster (Zajac-Denek) contend with a predatory mountain lion, potentially poisonous mushrooms and the ferocity of the elements. In amusing vignettes, one bigfoot gets high by sniffing the fur of a skunk while another creates an imaginary friend from his balled-up fist.

Gentle laughs are frequently undercut by stunned silence. Death comes quickly and matter-of-factly. Grunts, whoops and guttural roars replace intelligible lines of dialogue but it’s easy to discern the bigfoots’ emotions from their actions like when they beat the trunks of redwood trees in unison to make contact with similar communities. The sadness is palpable when the rhythmic calls go unanswered.

Austin-based experimental three-piece The Octopus Project, who have frequently collaborated with the Zellners, deliver an impressive and soaring score that combines cello, flute and synths with percussive field recordings taken during the pre-production process. A euphoric burst of synth-pop duo Erasure’s 1991 hit Love To Hate You soundtracks one scene and elicits a strong reaction.

Expanded from the brothers’ 2011 short Sasquatch Birth Journal 2, which depicts (rather vividly) a female bigfoot bringing new life into the world in a woodland setting, Sasquatch Sunset is a curiously compelling oddity. Minutiae of animal life can be a little repetitive but changing seasonal palettes and the influence of unseen humans feed the fascination. Exemplary prosthetics and make up allow the cast to vanish beneath pungent pelts matted with every conceivable excretion. Answering the call of the wild is exceedingly messy.

– Sarah Lee


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