Quirky Sasquatch documentary about the men who hunt the legendary beast
We have consigned notions of dragons, minotaurs and giants to the status of fables but there are some monster myths that persist even in the modern world. The Yeti, the Chupacabra and Scotland's own Loch Ness Monster live on in the popular imagination while Bigfoot is the beast that has gripped North America. There are TV shows, purported experts, horror movies and semi-regular reported sightings. This study of seemingly mythological creatures is sometimes given the quasi-scientific name of cryptozoology, but in many ways it is the men and women (but nearly always men) who believe that are even more fascinating than the creatures themselves.
Morgan Matthews' documentary focuses on three teams of Sasquatch 'experts'. The film starts with an intriguing 911 call that sends Matthews into the woods with young hunter Rick Dyer; there's the weird world of delusional, bumbling rednecks Dallas and Wayne; and professional Bigfoot chaser Tom Biscardi and his team. There's some wonderful black comedy but there's also a darkness underpinning many of these characters: these are men who feel they have something to prove, they have a vested interest in keeping the legend alive. Sasquatch has become an industry selling DVDs, tourism and souvenirs. There are hoaxers double crossing each other as they all race to claim the ultimate proof that Bigfoot exists.
What you have is a fascinating look at American society and modern folklore. The poor and dispossessed are more likely to still believe and think they have actually spotted the monster itself. There's a kind of collective insanity at play as people convince themselves of the reality of their claims. Tensions arise camping in the woods with Dyer and even Matthews himself can't help but remark on the similarity with The Blair Witch Project as he gets more and more freaked out in the dark. While we don't want to give too much away there is a blurring of fact and fiction which leaves you confused as to how exactly you should take Shooting Bigfoot, what exactly was real and what is Matthews' adding his own voice to the muddy waters of the Bigfoot mythology?
Screening at Filmhouse, Fri 21 Jun and Cineworld Fountainpark, Sat 22 Jun, as part of Edinburgh International Film Festival 2013.