How do you even describe a movie that is so absurd with its gross-out humor that the heart of the film gets lost? That’s the question I asked myself after watching Sasquatch Sunset. What tries to be a story about loneliness, family, and purpose gets lost in the 90 minutes of bodily fluids and grunting.

I’d heard rumblings from the Sundance Film Festival that people walked out on the new film written and directed by David and Nathan Zellner. The film is executive produced by Ari Aster. He took a stab at comedy with 2023’s Beau is Afraid, which worked for me. For critics and audiences, it seemed like a mixed reception. I was curious to see what Sasquatch Sunset had to offer and if it would be the same. The trailer looked enticing but didn’t give enough for me to answer that question. The answer is yes. Sasquatch Sunset is going to be divisive. This will be a film you love or hate. There is no middle ground. Regardless, it is a very memorable film, and maybe that’s the point.

Sasquatch Sunset Negates Its Own Journey

Taking place entirely outside of civilization. four unnamed sasquatches travel in search of others like them. As the seasons pass they encounter problems. Some they overcome and some they don’t. The film has no understandable dialogue, leading me to create what might be said in your head. The journey is more important than the words. That said, I thought the gross-out comedy negated the journey we embark on as an audience.

Don’t get me wrong, I think there is plenty to like about this film. The camera work and locations are perfect. The sound design and score, in particular, stood out for me. I absolutely loved hearing the rain pour down. The tree branches snapping as our main characters navigated the woods was a nice touch. There is one scene that features a log in a lake that has such great sound design that when I noticed the silence that followed, I felt the emotional weight of the scene.

Jesse Eisenberg & Riley Keough Portray Realism in an Absurd Film

As for the sasquatches themselves, the costuming and prosthetics look great. I believed that our four leads (Nathan Zellner, Jesse Eisenberg, Riley Keough, and Christophe Zajac-Denek) were real sasquatches. In researching the film, I was actually surprised by how unrecognizable the actors were. It’s both a benefit and a fault of the film. I wish there was a bit more humanity to these creatures than their lips and eyes moving. However, I couldn’t tell who was who. Not seeing a famous actor on screen added a sense of realness.

I thought Eisenberg and Keough were standouts for their acting. Keough’s performance adds so much weight to the motherly and singular female sasquatch. She comes across as funny, strong, loving, and cautious. Eisenberg gets a few moments to showcase how his character is different from the rest. Scenes where he tries counting and pondering the world around him are genuinely moving. The previously mentioned scene in the lake is heartbreaking. I mean, it would have been heartbreaking if it weren’t followed up with sasquatches throwing poop at birds.

Sasquatch Sunset is Unique and Full of Urine

Obviously, comedy is subjective, and what I find funny might be different, so take this with a grain of salt. I, for one, enjoy a bit of raunchy, gross-out humor. I like shock value. Where it went wrong for me is that Sasquatch Sunset returns to jokes about urinating, sex, and nudity more times than I would have liked for a 90-minute runtime. Since the film contains no real dialogue, the physical comedy had to be relied on. There are some comedic moments that are funny. A bit with a mountain lion is funny. It also doesn’t involve anything gross. Personally, I would have leaned more into the silent film era style of slapstick rather than something more grotesque. Again, it’s all subjective, but it will be the thing that turns people off from this movie.

Some films work better as short concepts. Sasquatch Sunset would have been a perfect 20-minute short film as it is. Unfortunately, the lack of anything more than gross-out humor drags the remainder of its runtime. Where the film lands by the end isn’t worth the journey or gallons of bodily fluids produced.

Sasquatch Sunset arrives in theaters April 19th, 2024.

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