• Mon. May 20th, 2024

Movie Curiosities

The online diary of an aspiring movie nerd

I still respect Ari Aster’s earlier breakout works. Esoteric and pretentious as they sometimes were, Hereditary and Midsommar were still groundbreaking and thematically potent works that helped firmly establish “prestige horror” as a legitimate mainstream genre. But then came Beau is Afraid and Dream Scenario, in which Aster chose to abandon any kind of subtlety and lose himself completely up his own ass. As a director and a producer, pretense has become an end in itself for Aster, and we’ve all become too accustomed to his unique brilliance to call him out on it.

Walking into Sasquatch Sunset, I had no idea that Aster was in any way connected with this movie. But then I saw his Square Peg shingle and I seriously considered asking for a refund on the spot. I’m still not sure I shouldn’t have.

Sasquatch Sunset was directed and produced by the Zellner Brothers, Nathan and David, who previously brought us the impressive Kumiko the Treasure Hunter. David Zellner is the credited screenwriter, but I’m not entirely convinced this movie had a script at all.

The cast is supposedly comprised of producer Jesse Eisenberg, Riley Keough, Christophe Zajac-Denek, and Nathan Zellner himself, but it’s irrelevant. The dialogue is comprised entirely of hoots and barks and grunts, and the performers are covered in too much costuming and makeup to be recognizable as human. They could’ve pulled random costumed performers from Disneyland for all the difference it would’ve made.

The film is a year in the life of four sasquatches. That’s it. We get roughly 80 minutes of sasquatches eating, fucking, building forts, and generally going about their lives in between maybe ten minutes of plot. I might add that because our characters are basic primates, they have a nasty habit of making their own problems because they’re literally too stupid to know any better. It’s a sympathetic reason, yes, but that doesn’t make it any less tedious to watch.

Granted, the presentation is stellar. The nature photography (shot in Northern California) is spellbinding, the creature effects are fantastic, and the makeup/costuming is seamless. It’s easy to get lost in the craftsmanship of the movie, until I remember that I’m effectively watching a gritty remake of the goddamn “Star Wars Holiday Special”!

(Side note: If you’re enough of a movie geek to even consider watching Sasquatch Sunset, you already should’ve seen the “Star Wars Holiday Special”, don’t even lie.)

But then — after that drawn-out, pointless, plotless, boring-ass first half — the second half finally starts. And this is where things finally start getting interesting.

It’s right there in the title: Sasquatch Sunset. What we’re looking at here could potentially be the last few sasquatches there could ever be. And they’re steadily dying off. Between the loss of habitat, constant pressure from predators and other natural dangers, and yes, from human negligence, something is being irreplaceably lost.

Granted, sasquatches are fictional, but they could be a stand-in for any number of endangered species, or even species that haven’t been discovered yet. What’s more, the sasquatches and their various interactions serve as a harsh reminder that humans and animals aren’t so different. I honestly kind of admire how fearlessly crude the filmmakers are in pointing out how — for all our pride and technology and whatever else — we still fight and shit and fuck and everything else done by any common animal.

I’ve written in the past about movies I like less the more I think about them. Sasquatch Sunset is the rare film that I come to like more the more I think about it. Yes, the film is dour and hopeless, but that’s acceptable for an environmental allegory. Unfortunately, the film is deliberately opaque and glacially paced, and that is something I cannot accept.

It was hard work getting through this movie, and as a general rule, I don’t give a good write-up to any movie that feels like work to sit through. Between the heady ideas and the world-class presentation, this is bound to be a favorite among the die-hard arthouse aficionados. Nobody else need bother. There are too many other far more entertaining movies out right now and coming out in the next few weeks, go see those instead.

By Curiosity Inc.

I hold a B.S. in Bioinformatics, the only one from Pacific University's Class of '09. I was the stage-hand-in-chief of my high school drama department and I'm a bass drummer for the Last Regiment of Syncopated Drummers. I dabble in video games and I'm still pretty good at DDR. My primary hobby is going online for upcoming movie news. I am a movie buff, a movie nerd, whatever you want to call it. Comic books are another hobby, but I'm not talking about Superman or Spider-Man or those books that number in the triple-digits. I'm talking about Watchmen, Preacher, Sandman, etc. Self-contained, dramatic, intellectual stories that couldn't be accomplished in any other medium. I'm a proud son of Oregon, born and raised here. I've been just about everywhere in North and Central America and I love it right here.

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