Monkeys Sh!t and Have Lots of Sex in "Sasquatch Sunset"

Sasquatch Sunset

Director: Nathan Zellner, David Zellner
Starring: Riley Keough, Jesse Eisenberg
Studio: Bleeker Street

Genre(s): Drama
Rated: R (For some sexual content, full nudity and bloody images)

There are times in a critic's life when he or she will see something so strange, so unusual, that they wonder if they have simply gotten too old for modern films or if filmmakers have just plain given up on audiences. I feel that I am an understanding critic. I give a movie its due. Even if a film is divisive, I try to see what the filmmakers are trying to accomplish and give them their due when they succeed. Heck, I listed "Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths" as one of the best films of the year when many other critics were reaching for their remotes (it was a Netflix movie). But readers, try as I might, there's no way to sugarcoat this one: "Sasquatch Sunset" is just plain stupid.

A silent film with no dialog spoken by the actors, "Sasquatch Sunset" should have been a bold undertaking. It is a movie that tries to examine the relationship between man and nature, as it follows a family of sasquatch as they roam the land, live their lives, and call out for other members of their kind who will never show up. The cinematography is beautiful and some moments are simply poetic. A scene where the child sasquatch discovers that a turtle can get a firm grip on your tongue if given the chance got a big laugh out of the audience (before most of them walked out). Another stand-out scene involves the sasquatch discovering a boombox and being moved by a song they don't know the lyrics to.

There are moments of greatness, and I wonder if - had things turned out differently - this could have been this generation's "2001: A Space Odyssey." But no, that is where the comparisons to a film from a mastermind like Stanley Kubrick will end. For while the movie may have something it wants to say it says it in all the wrong ways. So wrong is the way this movie tells its story, that I wonder if the directors were secretly playing a joke on the audience; filming just enough good stuff to make people like me wonder if there is something meaningful going on, while secretly laughing to the bank after making a sh!t show that teenagers would make.

For most of the movie does not revolve around beautiful images with subtle storytelling but on actors walking around in monkey suits doing disgusting things. It opens with two of the sasquatch having sex for an extended period. When further attempts at mating fail, the alpha male dies after trying (and failing) to hump a mountain lion. The aforementioned turtle scene is funny, but what am I supposed to take from a sequence later on that has the sasquatch drinking the blood and guts of a fish they just caught? Am I supposed to laugh? Be grossed out? Why is the film wasting my time with this?

At one point the sasquatch discover a paved road in the middle of their mountain. This is the first sign that we are watching a movie that takes place in the modern world. What should be a shocking revelation is ruined when the sasquatch decides to react to their discovery by pissing and crapping all over it. Did I mention you see sasquatch penises, balls, and pussy throughout the movie? If I didn't, you do, and the movie isn't shy about getting in our faces about it. When the film isn't being gross it's mostly boring, with many extended scenes of the sasquatch eating leaves or playing with rocks (sometimes they throw their crap at birds).

Even at 90 minutes, this feels like a stretch. The film stars Academy Award-nominee Jesse Eisenberg and Riley Keogh from "Mad Max: Fury Road," though it is confusing why such talented actors would agree to be in a film that requires them to debase themselves all while covering them up with so much makeup the audience can't recognize them. Maybe they wanted to challenge themselves. Maybe they wanted an easy paycheck? Or maybe they were suckers as well, just like every person who gets tricked into buying a ticket. Either way, the joke is ultimately on the studios who gave money to filmmakers who took it so that they could film an alpha sasquatch trying to have sex with a tree. I had to sit through this movie...