‘Sasquatch Sunset’ Movie Review: A Hilarious, Gross, and Thought-Provoking Monster Movie

Everybody loves a good monster movie. From the dawn of cinema, the unknown creatures of the underwater realm, dark woods, forests, and otherwise uncharted areas that might care to pay us a visit in the nighttime hours have long been the source of many a child’s lost hours of sleep. Even as adults, a walk through unfamiliar areas of remote locations at night can still make the tiniest doubts about monsters still creep up from the deep recesses of our minds with the simple snap of a twig off in the distance. But for all the scary movies about monsters we have, the Zellner brothers have brought us a new type of monster movie called Sasquatch Sunset

In the film, we follow a group of forest “monsters” through the backwoods and observe them going about their daily lives. Most of the situations presented in the film skew towards the comical, but there’s also some sobriety in some of the scenes. Disclaimer: This film will not be to everyone’s taste; there’s a lot of bathroom humor here – think monkeys in a zoo throwing poop, and you get the idea. Despite the fact that this film can get pretty gross, this film has more on its mind than just bodily functions. 

As we follow a family of these ape-like creatures through the woods, we observe them searching for food, constructing shelters, caring for their young, and even fighting for survival. But this film is bound to be polarizing. Some, like myself, will laugh a good amount and see the comparisons the film makes to our own behaviors as humans. Others will downright hate this film. Whatever side you land on will depend much on you, but if you somehow manage to get on the same wavelength as this film, well you’re bound to have a good time with these Sasquatch riding off into the Sunset.

[Editors note: There are mild spoilers ahead for Sasquatch Sunset.]

The Story of Sasquatch Sunset

The film opens with a few shots of scenic forests and rolling hills, the early morning sky bathed in the deep blue hues of the early sunlight peering at the sky from far past the horizon. We watch shots of the misty and cloud-covered terrain as ethereal music plays and the serene and tranquil atmosphere surrounds us. 

The camera view enters the forest, and after a minute of observation, we finally get a glimpse of movement as a large Bigfoot-type creature emerges from behind some trees and crosses a small field of knee-high grass. Another follows some paces behind the first, and then finally, two more are seen; a family of four in total passes through before the scene cuts, and we watch the beauty of a sunrise coming up over the hills in the far distance. 

Then we meet our family of four. They are sitting in a field, eating some of the green vegetation growing there. There are no names, so I’ll just describe them: the main father/husband figure (Jesse Eisenberg), his “mate,” the only female, and also the mother/wife (Riley Keough), and their middle school-aged son (Christophe Zajac-Denek) from my best estimate. There’s another adult male (Nathan Zellner) who is smaller than the main father, but it is unknown if he’s a son of the main pair or just traveling with the rest. 

As we watch them individually for a few moments, we see the other adult male grooming the father; he works picking things out of his hair before suddenly sneezing all over the back of his head. The father feels the back of his head with his hand, turns menacingly ever so slightly back towards the other male, clearly aggravated, and waves him off.

A Year in the Life of Bigfoot

A title comes onscreen, informing us this is spring; we go through a year with these creatures and are alerted as the four seasons change. But with springtime comes you know what . . . a mommy Sasquatch and a daddy Sasquatch . . . look, I’m not here to give you a lesson on the birds and the bees. This film brazenly depicts the “mom and dad” Sasquatch going at it doggie style; the two other Sasquatch look on, along with some elk, as the pair grunt and do their thing. It all lasts for about forty seconds until, finally, the male collapses on the female. Ok, that’s over with. 

Amusingly, after a few moments, they get up, grab a few ferns, and wipe themselves off down below. This may seem shocking, but if you think about it objectively, this is perfectly normal primate behavior; if you went and watched monkeys at a zoo for a few hours, you’re just as likely to see a good amount of bodily functions and fluids happening. 

Next up is building a shelter. The foursome gathers large sticks, branches, and more fern fronds and constructs a makeshift shelter for the night. Curiously, though, before bed, they all take sticks and stand next to trees. After waiting a few moments, the father grunts, and they all hit the large trees in unison, four strikes, a pause, then a fifth. After they all look up towards the sky briefly, the process is repeated. They do this activity later on, and although it is never explained, I speculate they are attempting to communicate with other Sasquatch.

They forage for food, smell themselves down there, throw rocks in a stream, have some amusing shenanigans with a turtle, and otherwise just do their thing. The narrative through line isn’t strong, but some significant events transpire through this year that forever change the face of this family. Although the laughs are there if you’re up for it, there’s also some heart at the core of this weird, bizarre, disgusting, and often hilarious family.

Surprisingly, this film is the third this year I’ve reviewed, along with Robot Dreams and Hundreds Of Beavers, which is almost completely absent of dialogue. But the events the screenplay (penned by David Zellner) outlines keep the viewer engaged, for the most part. These creatures are always doing something interesting, and the short runtime helps the film keep moving, and the pace doesn’t suffer much. At least I can say I was never bored during the sub-hour-and-a-half run. 

The Zellner brothers, who wrote and directed the film, cover a wide array of human interactions, including *spoiler alert* fighting for survival, intercourse, pregnancy, birth, and death. It really seems that David and Nathan Zellner wanted to point out that when you boil it down, we share the same motivations with these “monsters”; we all just want to live and see our species continue on and survive. 

Impressive Makeup and Acting Bring the Monsters to Life

Tonally, the film embraces some very chill, relaxing, and even somewhat hippie vibes as it goes about telling this story. But holy smokes this makeup work! My mind was blown by the amount of detail that this film brandished, allowing us very up close and intimate shots of the work, chewing, skin wrinkling up as the actors’ expressions shone through the thick layers of makeup and hair work applied to all these characters. In all seriousness the work going on here is Academy Awards worthy. And whether you consider the body suits, costumes, makeup, or a combo, the transformation work going on here was all highly impressive. 

I mentioned the facial expressions and eye movements of this cast, but especially Riley Keough, which brought so much to these characters. Without dialogue, the film rested heavily on these characters conveying thoughts and emotions via their eyes, and Keough especially understood their assignment. Also highly impressive was the humanity that these actors brought to the quote-unquote “monsters” that otherwise would be easy to see as mindless beasts but for their work. 

More Than Monkey Business: Sasquatch Sunset’s Themes

The film’s original score and songs by The Octopus Project were lovely, although subtle, with lots of flute and acoustic guitar work that also contributed to the hippie vibes the movie exudes. Besides the film acting as a mirror for ourselves as humans in some ways, the film also touches on deforestation, environmentalism, the beauty of nature and our planet, as well as how many areas that were once beautiful but are now gone due to human activity. There’s really more to this film than meets the eye, if you’re willing to stop and smell the . . . well . . . maybe don’t smell anything from this film.

Final thoughts on Sasquatch Sunset

I tend to think that general audiences won’t respond to this film quite as well as critics will, as there’s more going on here than just watching a bunch of monkey-like creatures defecating in the woods. Perhaps in watching this portrayal of our distant relatives, we can catch glimpses of our own humanity. So go see these Sasquatch if you dare, but be forewarned, this Sunset probably won’t be as beautiful as the ones you’ve seen before.

Sasquatch Sunset is now in theaters.

Learn more about Sasquatch Sunset at the film’s official website. 

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