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Vibe Cinema: 'Sasquatch Sunset'

Updated: May 3

Peggy Hepburn's 3-Word Review: ASMR! Ambient! Earthy!



This was an odd one, folks. I can’t really decide if I loved it or hated it, but I’ll tell you this: it has definitely sat with me. It pulls all the ultimate art movie stunts: no words spoken, a skeleton of a plot, & the barest of character development, if any. Still, somehow the sheer quiet of the natural vistas & the painfully evocative faces of the band of Sasquatches leaves you under their spell, rooting for them, even while the movie itself almost asks not to be paid too close attention to.


Here’s the run-down: four Sasquatches live in a vast forest, three males & one rather homely female who is always lost in a daydream (about what?), the camera follows them as they graze for food, have sex (or not — most of the conflict that emerges occurs when one of the males approaches the female & she isn’t having it), graze for food, perform an odd ritual that involves banging sticks in a specific rhythm on the trunks of trees — they’re searching for more of their kind, I eventually realized. They seem to be vaguely aware that they are the only ones left of their species, which makes their sloth-like roaming for survival all the more poignant for the audience. Most of the focus seems to be on visual textures of the grosser variety: after the more aggressive male eats some iffy berries, he vomits on himself & encounters a mountain lion & (spoiler alert) is killed & eaten, his innards on full display in all their wretched detail; the band is constantly smelling, licking, & eating things (this is most of the movie, in fact); when the female gives birth, we are privy to the baby crowning; & when the band discovers, to their horror, a man-made road, they proceed to piss & shit all over it. Pissing is a common denominator throughout the film, the dangling genitalia of the males a kind of unabashed reminder of their proximity to humanity, and another wet texture to drive home the gooey natural ASMR of the film’s overall mood.


And it is a mood. It is mostly mood. It was almost like watching nature footage without a British commentator to inform us of what’s going on — much is left to the audience’s imagination. A recurring moment that inspired a few chuckles in the theatre was when the male played by Jesse Eisenberg (the sweeter of the males) continuously tries to count things (stars, rings in a tree trunk, bird eggs), never able to make it past the number four — though, keep in mind, he is unable to speak, only grunt. These mythical Bigfoots are merely on the verge of language, on the verge of understanding numbers, but are so one with nature that the understanding is rather unnecessary — we envy them their closeness to the Earth, & the emerging human presence is, more or less, the villain of the story, of course. How sweet it would be, we realize, if they were able to continue to exist in their Edenic paradise, undisturbed by human intervention. They become a stand-in for nature itself; their struggle is that of the Earth’s, something calm, sweet, & a little gross strangled by modern order & industrialization.


The film is almost a forced meditation for the viewer; I kept thinking that without conflict, there is no plot. Perhaps this is what is wrong with the real world: we thrive on conflict in order to drive a plot forward. Perhaps, this film suggests, it would be better to forego this obsession with conflict & simply eat some leaves. Still, a little more story certainly wouldn’t have hurt — eating leaves is fine & good, but isn’t necessarily the stuff of compelling cinema. Or is it? I’m full of more questions than answers, I’m afraid, but I suppose that’s the point.


—Peggy Hepburn


Illustration by @madamestarlite


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