Sundance 2024: The Sasquatch Family Will Play in ‘Sasquatch Sunset’
by Alex Billington
January 25, 2024
One of the best nature documentaries ever made has just premiered at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival. It’s a remarkable look featuring copious amounts of never-before-seen footage of a very rarely observed creature known as Dinanthropoides magnipus. Directed by the accomplished filmmaking brothers David Zellner & Nathan Zellner, their new nature doc is called Sasquatch Sunset, an one-of-a-kind observational film taking us closer than ever before into the lives of a Sasquatch family. While it might seem a film about some furry creatures hanging out in the woods might be rather boring, this one breaks the mold and explores new territory. Sasquatch Sunset is a bewildering, fascinating, ambitious cinematic experience unlike anything any human has ever encountered before. While you may not think it is necessary to spend this much time with them, there is much that humans can learn from this study of these rare creatures and their daily lives.
In all seriousness, this film is genius. Sasquatch Sunset is indisputably a one-of-a-kind, nothing-else-like-it-exists project. It feels like an observational nature documentary in so many ways, which is what makes it fun to watch. The Zellner Brothers are Sundance regulars, known for wacky, funky films like Goliath, Kid-Thing, and Kumiko The Treasure Hunter from years past. This film is a culmination of all their creative work – it’s an entirely dialogue free cinematic experiment made with total commitment to the bit. Featuring nothing but grunts & noises as we follow a goofy Sasquatch family observing their own demise. It’s pretty brilliant. Most will either hate it or love it. If you can appreciate the “what do Sasquatches do all day?” concept, what they’re going for (once you actually figure out what it really is they’re going for), how they’re portraying it (as accurately as possible) with a special comedic edge, you’ll probably love it as much as I did. However, if this man-in-suit mockery seems silly and stupid to you, well, perhaps it’s better to stay away from this film.
Watching Sunset Sasquatch at the world premiere was yet another iconic Sundance Film Festival experience I’ll never forget – sitting in the big Eccles Theater with nearly ~1200 other people watching full-on, realistic man-in-suit Sasquatches grunt, howl, fuck, eat, shit, piss, & roll around for some 90 minutes, with practical Sasquatch dick, tits, and everything on display. What a wild and dirty film. Literally. I cannot even begin to describe how awkward this night was, which only adds to the amusement. Some people were uncomfortably shifting in their seats, wondering just WTF were they watching. Others were fidgeting with joy experiencing this extremely ridiculous yet hilarious take on Sasquatch culture. It’s quite fascinating to be there with both kinds of people encountering this together for the first time. The believably of it all is off the charts. There is also a famous cast of actors who play the family: Jesse Eisenberg, Riley Keough, Christophe Zajac-Denek, and Nathan Zellner star in this film underneath the hair. You can tell who is who from their eyes.
For anyone wondering – is there a point to all this Sasquatch madness? Yes, actually there is, which is part of the genius of this film. The Zellner Brothers’ commitment to making this creation look and feel as real as possible is an important part of it. I don’t even know how they pulled off some of the shots in this – amazing work. There is a rather emotional, upsetting plot about the Sasquatches being too dumb to understand how to survive in a changing world, which is obviously meant to be a satirical nod at how humanity is almost the same. There’s a moment in this where I almost thought they might show humanity is directly responsible for their downfall, but it doesn’t go down that path. Instead, we follow them along the way as they simply cause their own undoing, which is still quite sad and compelling to consider. All these ideas in play make it such a remarkably fascinating & amusing experience. Nothing better than going for a dance with the Sasquatches.
Alex’s Sundance 2024 Rating: 9 out of 10
Follow Alex on Twitter – @firstshowing / Or Letterboxd – @firstshowing