[Review] Duplass Brothers’ True Crime Doc SASQUATCH is Way More than Squatchsploitation

In 1993, investigative reporter David Holthouse was undercover at a pot farm in Northern California. As you can imagine, David heard some strange, unforgettable things, but there’s one story that has kept him up at night for the past twenty-five years. It was a story of a triple-murder, of three bodies found torn apart and left in a large field of cannabis. The imagery of that grisly scene is haunting enough, but what stuck in David’s mind was the alleged perpetrator of the crime. According to the man David heard talking about them, the murders were committed by none other than… Bigfoot.

Now, Jay and Mark Duplass (CreepRoom 104) have hired David to return to the cryptid cold case still lurking within his brain. Together, they’ve put together a documentary called Sasquatch that sees David return to California and try to reassemble the pieces of this strange story. It’s part true crime, part personal history, and yes, part cryptozoology, making for one of the most interesting premises for a documentary in 2021. But even beyond this premise, what makes Sasquatch so fascinating is how it goes beyond the run-of-the-mill Squatchsploitation docs of the past. Sasquatch is a different beast entirely.

 

Tales from the Cryptid



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But don’t worry, Bigfoot fans. There is still plenty of your favorite cryptid to hook you into this much larger story. Sasquatch handles the legend of the Bigfoot with respect, interviewing believers and non-believers with equal credibility. Devotees will recognize one of the documentary’s interviewees as Bob Gimlin, the man who filmed the now-infamous Sasquatch footage from the hills of Northern California in 1967. Nightmare on Film Street regulars might recognize the story from an interview I did with people who talked to Bob in 2019.

 

“[Sasquatch is] part true crime, part personal history, and yes, part cryptozoology […] “

 

But Sasquatch goes further than the physical evidence for the titular creature. The documentary brings on anthropologists and mythology experts to examine not just the lore, but our fascination with Bigfoot in general. It asks why so many cultures have a myth of the “wild man” living in the woods, what monsters represent to us, and how a legend can persist when there’s hardly any evidence to back it up. Sasquatch takes a very serious look at the Bigfoot myth without the sensationalism of the late-nite History Channel creature-feature docs you might be used to. And a huge reason for that is probably the guidance of its main character…

 

Bigfoot, Meet Gumshoe

Reporter David Holthouse, the narrator/main focus of Sasquatch, is a fascinating subject regardless of his proximity to America’s Abominable Snowman. A relentless pursuer of the truth, David’s ability to get people talking has allowed him to infiltrate drug smuggling operations, white supremacist factions, and other various criminal enterprises. David knows where to look and what questions to ask, approaching every subject by walking the line between helpful objectivity and detail obsessiveness. I came away from Sasquatch regretting there aren’t more David Holthouse documentaries out there, but at the same time, happy that this is the one we get.

 

“[Sasquatch] brings on anthropologists and mythology experts to examine not just the lore, but our fascination with Bigfoot in general.”

 

You see, there’s a personal element to David’s involvement in the Sasquatch case. I won’t say what it is here to avoid spoilers, but I will say that we learn an element of David’s backstory that gives us a reason to understand his obsession with this mystery. I’ll be honest, going into a documentary called Sasquatch, I did not expect such a moving human drama. But that’s what I got through David’s story, and honestly, that’s the best part of this documentary. It gives a human face to a monster mystery.

 

Stranger Than Fiction

And therein lies the reason Sasquatch is such a standout. Where other monster documentaries stretch reality into conjecture to essentially give us an X-Files plot, this series firmly rooted itself in David’s world. And trust me, that world can be heavy. David explores some of the darkest elements of our country today; drug addiction, racism, and corporate greed all play a part in telling this tale. Sasquatch doesn’t let you forget that real people lost their lives in this case, and whether it was by a mysterious monster or a human one, those people had families and friends. Loved ones who don’t get to see them ever again.

 

“[Sasquatch] gives a human face to a monster mystery”

 

In this way, Sasquatch overcomes the sensationalism of even a lot of today’s stories from the true crime genre. While it’s easy to forget the human cost in favor of focusing on an “exciting” story, Sasquatch takes the hard route, reminding viewers of the brutal tragedy it’s telling. In a world where it’s so easy to become desensitized by all the horrors we see on the news every day, it’s stories like this one that remind us of the victims’ humanities and, by extension, our own.

 

There are monsters in this world. It’s a truth that Sasquatch buts on vibrant display. It’s just that, usually, those monsters aren’t tall, covered in hair, and sporting feet the size of a hoagie. They’re human, created by either their own greed or by cruel circumstance. The only way to deal with them is to try and understand them, to spot the monstrousness in ourselves and purge it. That, as the Duplass Brothers and David Holthouse make very clear, is the most important monster hunting one can do.

 

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