Long before Leonard Nimoy explored the existence of Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster on “In Search of…,” cryptozoological creatures captured the public imagination. Even in the face of inconclusive evidence, such legends have persisted around the globe and over thousands of years, giving Sasquatch and his ilk more than enough weight to leave significant cultural footprints, if not a historical record. Director Darcy Weir, whose documentary and television work has previously addressed alien abduction, gives props to contemporary cryptid hunters in Sasquatch Among Wildmen. But despite some colorful characters, intriguing stories and low-resolution video, the dry, poorly-paced presentation won’t make any new believers.

The primary authority here is the entirely affable Dr. Jeffrey Meldrum, a professor of anatomy and anthropology at Idaho State University. Meldrum explains something that might not be obvious even to someone who’s seen a ton of Bigfoot movies: tales of a similar creature go back at least to the Epic of Gilgamesh, an epic poem from ancient Mesopotamia that dates to around 1800 B.C.

According to his Wikipedia entry, Meldrum is an expert on “foot morphology and locomotion in primates,” and he has a lot of enthusiasm for his field of study: discussing a display of footprint casts, he pauses on the large Sasquatch cast and runs his big hand over the footprint with an endearing fondness. Such obsessive touches make these human subjects interesting, even beyond whether one believes in Bigfoot or not. Unfortunately, the personalities are given short shrift in favor of visuals that are less evocative; an illustration of different types of cryptid footprint, including the Russian almas, seems to have been cut from a book; other cuts to text-heavy graphics slow down the spirit of investigation, a shame when some of the camo-clad Sasquatch explorers have a nervous energy, excited to share their stories.

Promising threads teased early in the film don’t pay off; one expects this kind of documentary to feature subjects who saw an unexplained hairy creature walking upright somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, but Weir has tracked down video footage from Russia as well as subjects in China whose experiences are accompanied by animated reenactments that briefly suggest director Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s arthouse Sasquatch film Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives.

Sure, not every documentary filmmaker can make like Werner Herzog and immerse himself in an obsessive milieu, reveling in his subjects’ mania. Weir appears genuinely interested in the people he interviews, but it was a mistake to include barely edited footage of a video conference call in which an investigator tries to distinguish between the audio waves of known wildlife calls versus possible Sasquatch recordings. We didn’t need to see the researcher take the time to point out file names.

Even at just 73 minutes long, Sasquatch Among Wildmen moves too slowly; more judicious editing of footage, and more emphasis given to livelier interview subjects, would have made a more entertaining look at cryptozoology. Alas, this is no “In Search of…”

The dry, poorly-paced presentation won’t make any new believers.
31 %
Unconvincing Footprints
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