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Sasquatch Sunset review: A top 5 gross-out movie about Bigfoots


Gross-out humor reached its apex in 2010’s Jackass 3D, when the boys slingshotted a ripened port-a-potty 100 feet into the air, and a bungee-cord bounce sent fecal matter splattering all over Steve-O — in glorious 3D, no less! That was it. There was nowhere else to go. Or so I believed.

Sasquatch Sunset has upended comedic history.

The new comedy from filmmaker brothers David and Nathan Zellner stars Jesse Eisenberg and Riley Keough, though you wouldn’t know it without seeing their names on the poster; they’re both outfitted in cryptid costumes that conceal everything but their eyes. It’s really them, movie stars, roaming the woods in big hairy prosthetics. Like the apes in 2001: A Space Odyssey, the movie’s small pack of four sasquatches is on the verge of a new phase of evolution as they unlock the possibilities of the world and their own bodies. This leads them to defecate without restraint, make feral love in the open, and occasionally fondle their dongs. No bodily function goes untapped in Sasquatch Sunset, which happens to be a meditative communion with North America’s glorious woodland.

Sasquatch Sunset is extreme even for the Zellners, who are experts in thwarting expectations and upending movie tropes. Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter, their biggest breakout, stars Rinko Kikuchi as a Tokyo office drone drawn to Minnesota, supposedly in search of the bag of money buried in the snow by the characters in the Coen brothers’ neo-noir Fargo. Twisting urban legend into fantastical docudrama, the film earned indie cult status by threading quirk through tragedy to spin up a genre-defying odyssey. Their follow-up, 2018’s Damsel, let Robert Pattinson, Mia Wasikowska, and a tiny horse go ham on the Western genre. While less successful as commentary, the romp was pure Zellners — wicked funny, experimental, and eye-catching. Sasquatch Sunset continues the arc, as the brothers both broaden their humor and find a way to be even less accessible.

There is no dialogue in Sasquatch Sunset, and little plot. More National Geographic documentary than Harry and the Hendersons, the film follows the four Bigfoots over a year as their senses blossom and urges take hold. Eisenberg and Keough’s sasquatches already have a son (Christophe Zajac-Denek of Twin Peaks: The Return), but the pack’s alpha male (Nathan Zellner) is randy. Through grunts and howls, the humanoids negotiate their societal norms, paving the way for Keough and Zellner’s sasquatches to graphically, as the Bloodhound Gang would put it, “do it like they do on the Discovery Channel.” Keough’s sasquatch winds up pregnant, Zellner’s has a sexual awakening, and Eisenberg ends up introspective, ruminating in silence as his companions bang, and staring off into the trees as if wondering whether there are any more of them out there.

Cinematographer Mike Gioulakis breathes life into Sasquatch Sunset’s quiet stillness with his sun-soaked landscapes — the California redwoods are as much of a far out, man spectacle as the infinity of the night sky. And as an examination of the dawn of man that still brushes up against the existence of modern(-ish) mankind, Sasquatch Sunset occasionally connects with something profound about how we became the violent, vulgar, curious, loving beings we should all admit we are.

Where viewers’ mileage will vary is in the aggressive punctuation of introspective moments with absolutely profane humor. I will never unsee Eisenberg’s sasquatch having an explosive diarrhea episode all over a street after eating the wrong kind of berries. Or watching Keough go ape on her dangling breasts to firehose milk in every direction. Or a sasquatch live birth. The practical effects in Sasquatch Sunset are… astounding.

Three sasquatches overlook a forest vista in Sasquatch Sunset

Image: Bleecker Street

There is a point to all of this. While the Bigfoots live off the land, they know little about their surroundings. Everything is a “first” in the wild, and the Zellners want us to feel it. How do you eat a fish if you’ve never seen one before? The sasquatches pop a few like water balloons. How do you care for a baby without any instruction? Smack it until it burps. What the hell is a mountain lion? A sex object, at least at first. The Zellners are right to imagine their sasquatches’ quest for survival as complete chaos, walkouts be damned.

Reactions to Sasquatch Sunset’s Sundance Film Festival premiere called it everything from a masterpiece to an utter misfire. I can’t imagine the Zellners would want it any other way; their vision is clear, and zero concessions were made to tame the backwoods journey into a whimsical, Disney Plus-ready drama. No, this is how it would really be, and the laughs (horrors?) within might even make Steve-O squint.

Is Sasquatch Sunset a good movie? A bad one? I will say I approve of it. I wanted to vomit three or four times before the credits rolled, but in an era where even indie films can feel like four-quadrant efforts on the cheap, what a relief that something so aggressively sick and sweet exists.

Sasquatch Sunset opens in a few major cities on April 12, and expands to a nationwide release on April 19.



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