Film Review – Sasquatch Sunset

Sasquatch Sunset

Sasquatch Sunset

I’ll say this much: Sasquatch Sunset (2024) chooses a lane and sticks with it. Admittedly, the film should be admired for staying true to its gimmick and not wavering in the slightest, for better or worse. But I wonder if the result was worth the effort. The directing team of David Zellner and Nathan Zellner (with David on screenplay) presents a simple and straightforward concept: Following a year in the lives of four sasquatches deep in the heart of the wilderness. Through each season, we watch this “family” eat, mate, urinate, and defecate, all while trying to exist in a world quickly being consumed by humankind.  There are moments of humor, heartbreak, and sincere beauty, but the poignancy the film tries so hard to attain gets buried under the weight of scatological excess.

There were reports of walkouts at the Sundance Film Festival premiere. While I do not condone leaving a movie before it is finished (especially if you’re a critic or member of the press), I can fully understand how some will find this repugnant. Some will really love it, others will despise it. This is a very raunchy film. Centered entirely on the family (played by Jesse EisenbergRiley Keough, Christophe Zajac-Denek, and Nathan Zellner), there is no spoken dialogue. The only verbal sounds we hear are grunts, yelps, and screams. All the thoughts and feelings of the four Bigfoot (Bigfeet?) are expressed through physical gestures, and more importantly, through their eyes. 


Credit should be given to the actors for fully committing to the bit. The costuming and makeup do not make the sasquatches appear very flattering. Their fur (hair?) is stringy and coated in mud and feces. They perform all sorts of lewd behavior, including but not limited to poop throwing, vomiting, fornication, and the eating of raw animals. I can only imagine the kind of smells exuding from them. And yet, the performances are strong enough for us to understand certain character traits. Zellner’s character is the aggressor, wanting to be the alpha of the group and take charge. Eisenberg’s is more contemplative and gentler. There’s a whole thread of him simply trying to count to the number four. And Keogh’s sasquatch is the heart of the family – we initially think that she might be a victim, but she turns out to be the most resilient.

Obviously, Sasquatch Sunset is an unconventional story. Viewers should not expect a standard three act structure. Instead, this should be viewed like an experiment, almost as though we were Jane Goodall studying the family’s habits and routines. Some of the better sequences involve them performing an organized task. Instead of talking verbally, they communicate with subtle hand gestures. When angry or upset, they hop up and down, flapping their arms and hollering at the top of their lungs. They even have their own rituals, resembling a primitive form of spirituality. The most memorable detail is how they attempt to connect with other sasquatches. Every so often, the group will take sticks and hit tree trunks in sync, letting the sound echo into the wind. Patiently, they wait a moment for a response. Were they separated from a larger community? Are they trying to figure out whether they are the last of their kind? 

Mike Gioulakis’ cinematography captures the outdoor environments with lush compositions. There are some gorgeous shots, from the dense green shrubbery to the expansive mountain ranges. When the family reaches the top of a peak and pauses to take in the scenery, it looks like something out of a postcard. When the camera pulls out to see them walking along the grassy hills – like specks on an enormous canvas – the image reminds us of those home videos supposedly recording the real-life creatures. On the flipside, the Zellner’s direction doesn’t ignore the dangers of the world. From other predators to poisonous plants, there are countless traps everywhere, looking to either maim our protagonists or outright kill them. The family is constantly on eggshells wherever they go.


It’s unfortunate that a movie this unique and featuring a dedicated cast/crew would be so entrenched in raunchiness. Every time the narrative hints towards a larger thematic element, it veers back to toilet humor. Too bad, because there are instances where it flirts with relevant and pressing topics. This mostly has to do with the intrusion of human activity. Although we never see a human on screen, we constantly feel their presence. Trees marked with the letter “X” in big red spray paint feel like a harbinger of doom. A fallen log that clearly was chopped down poses a bigger threat to the sasquatches than anything else they come across. The writing touches on deforestation, climate change, and the effect of human interference. Sadly, all of this is seen from a surface level and never gets fully developed. Instead, we must suffer scene after scene of the family spewing bodily excrement, looking around aimlessly, picking bugs out of their fur, or trying to have sex. 

Once the initial shock wears off, Sasquatch Sunset becomes a bit of a drag. The meandering, episodic style wears thin, and the preference on vulgar comedy has diminishing returns the further along we go. Without a doubt there is artistry on display, and we can’t deny the Zellners having their own creative vision. I just wish the story they told had a little more meat and a little less poop.




Allen is a moviegoer based out of Seattle, Washington. His hobbies include dancing, playing the guitar, and, of course, watching movies.

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