‘Sasquatch Sunset’ dives into Bigfoot’s world

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Do you reckon Sasquatches snore? C’mon, you know the answer, deep down. Of course, they do. They snore and eat noisily and pick bugs out of each other’s fur and then eat those bugs, noisily. What else do Sasquatches do, you wonder? One of the wildest movies of the year – or the century, for that matter – suggests they mourn, cuddle, bury their dead, enjoy throwing rocks in rivers, make art and wonder if they’re alone in the world.

Even so, “Sasquatch Sunset” from filmmaking brothers David and Nathan Zellner, is a bewildering 90-minute, narrator-less and wordless experiment that’s as audacious as it is infuriating. It’s not clear if everyone was high making it or we should be while watching it. Nathan Zellner, Jesse Eisenberg, Riley Keough and Christophe Zajac-Denek play a makeshift family of four Sasquatches, lost in hair suits and prosthetics and communicating only in grunts, snorts and howls. They also pee a lot. Why the filmmakers hired such starry actors instead of paying scale to some unknowns is puzzling. None of the Sasquatches do more than what could be called Method Chimpanzee – jumping up and down, whooping and growling.

A group of real chimps would ding the quartet for overacting. As an exercise in creating empathy for monsters, “Sasquatch Sunset” does an admirable job. In the first frames, when we see a loping Bigfoot in the middle distance – and then three more – it’s clear that they are telling this story, not the folks who usually capture them in shaky camera frames. There are plenty of Sasquatches-are-just-like-us moments, like when one brings flowers to seduce another or two Bigfoots comfort each other after a death. Perhaps the most poignant moments are when they pound trees with sticks in unison, a rhythmic question that echoes through the valley. It’s a call, waiting for a response – anyone out there like us? But then there’s a lot of gross-out stuff. We’ve mentioned the peeing, but it turns out that Sasquatches sneeze, procreate loudly and like to touch their genitals and then smell their fingers. They can also poo on demand and throw that poo to scare off predators.

One juvenile Bigfoot makes his hand into a makeshift puppet and talks to it – like a nod to the kid in “The Shining” – and another considers inserting his manhood into a small tree hole, like a prehistoric riff off that famous scene in “American Pie.” Both things can be true, of course: Bigfoot can be disgusting and deep at the same time. But it’s not always clear what the filmmakers are going for here – satire, metaphor, sympathy, naturalism or gross-out comedy? The Sasquatches reveal deeply human characteristics and may be stand-ins for our innocent pasts, a lost link in our evolution, showing the unrelenting violence of natural life or just the voiceless among us now. Or the filmmakers might just like the image of tossing poo. Gorgeous vistas of pristine forests and misty valleys don’t help us figure out when this all takes place but gradual clues emerge, including evidence of logging and a truly surreal bit at a human camping site, scored by the Erasure song “Love to Hate You.” But if the Zellners had an environmental lesson here, they shanked it.

There’s great music from The Octopus Project, veering from bright electric guitar noodles to scifi-electronic dread reminiscent of “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Stick through the roll of end credits and see one of the best credits ever in film: Sasquatch Wrangler. You don’t see that every day. You don’t see Sasquatch movies every day, either, but this is one you should probably let lope past you. “Sasquatch Sunset,” a Bleecker Street release that lands in some theaters on April 12 and goes wider April 19, is rated R for “for some sexual content, full nudity and bloody images.” Running time: 89 minutes. One star out of four. By Mark Kennedy

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