17th Jun2024

‘Sasquatch Sunset’ Review

by Jasmine Valentine

Stars: Riley Keough, Jesse Eisenberg, Christophe Zajac-Denek, Nathan Zellner | Written and Directed by David and Nathan Zellner

In an alternate version of the present – or perhaps it’s this one, who knows – a family of four sasquatches face a huge change when the alpha male is killed by a mountain lion. Following the group though four seasons in a single year, they must learn to survive, adapt, and connect in a world that definitely isn’t made for them.

Remember how Brian Blessed — the tall man with a beard who occasionally made strange squealing noises at celebrities on chat shows — became obsessed with Bigfoot, and we all blithely went along with his tales? Turns out that this was the only fictional detailing of a sasquatch that we ever needed. Undoubtedly, the Zellner brothers have done something incredibly ambitious with Sasquatch Sunset, but it is the epitome of cinematic Marmite… and look how many people hate that.

For those of us who hated the Little Britain school of comedy back in the mid-2000s, Sasquatch Sunset will be nothing other than a painful watch. Every type of toilet humour peppers the narrative — weird sex acts that do little other than solicit a cheap laugh, vomit, toilet habits, and cannibalistic death. If the Zellner brothers had revealed a bunch of 9-year-old boys were in the costumes, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise. To a degree, this makes sense — if Saquatches were in fact in the wild, they would engage in animalistic behaviours. Yet our Sasquatches are uncomfortable caricatures, heightening the very worst traits in order to entertain, or indeed, perhaps highlight something about our own selves.

Beyond this strange shock value, nothing much in Sasquatch Sunset is all that memorable. Some poignancy struggles to reach through, but everything else viewers see as context has already diluted the heartwarming effect. Of course, we can see why we would care about this quartet. They’re four small beings against a big bad world, communicating basic needs and desires that we all experience, and frequently showing genuine emotion. It’s just that we don’t care. Once you’re introduced to two of them ferociously shagging and wiping themselves down with leaves while the other two mindlessly stare on, it’s tricky to navigate back through other pits and peaks.

The real moment of entertainment is the credits, when you find out that these boisterous beasts have been played by Riley Keough and Jesse Eisenberg the entire time. It’s an unintentional jaw-drop moment, with your brain scrambling to comprehend how two well-established, talented, and nuanced actors could have created… that. Perhaps this lends to the overall impact, teaching us a lesson in how to expect the unexpected, and never take anything at face value. But somehow, everything purely reads as superficial shock value.

If Sasquatch Sunset was to be summed up in one word, it would be gross. Going “ugly early” — so to speak — means many viewers will have zoned far, far out by the time the emotional heartstrings are pulled, straddling something between pantomime and fringe theatre. Perhaps if Attenborough gets his hands on the myth, it’s something worth revisiting.

* 1/5

Sasquatch Sunset is in UK cinemas now.

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