Morgan Matthews’ Shooting Bigfoot is likely to be a firm fan favourite of this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival. Matthews’ feature is an amusing and occasionally dark look into the world of ‘bigfoot hunting’ with enough originality and fun to become an instant cult classic.
Matthews’ journey sees him shadow a variety of bigfoot obsessives and study the skills they use in their attempts to capture the elusive sasquatch. This is not so much a documentary on bigfoot (obviously, because it doesn’t exist) but on the eccentric men who devote their life to finding the creature.
Shooting Bigfoot does not set out to exploit these men and their beliefs in any way with Matthews taking an admirable agnostic approach towards the existence of bigfoot. The bigfoot hunters however, do not take such an approach – they seem to be split into two defined categories, those that hold a genuine believe in the creature and those that seek to exploit the concept of bigfoot for some quick cash. Those in the former are Dallas and Wayne, two working class elderly men who dub themselves ‘bigfoot researchers’. Both men seem convinced at the existence of the creature – with Wayne continually howling into the woods and Dallas believing every shadow is the mysterious sasquatch.
However, it is the more morally ambiguous bigfoot hunters who make the most fascinating subjects in Matthews’ film. Rick Dyer, a man who attempted to hoax the Bigfoot equivalent of the 1990’s alien autopsy – is one of these. Dyer notes he ‘has no friends’ which is unsurprising from his intimidating behaviour and facetious opinions. Shooting Bigfoot even turns into a terrifying Southern Comfort/Hills Have Eyes style horror when showcasing Matthews’ hunting trip with Dyer who conveys a slightly darker side to his personality – resulting in a nerve-shreddingly tense and unsettling conclusion. An encounter with a shifty knife-wielding homeless man and his mysteriously injured dog on the same trip alludes to more terrifying behaviour than anything that a sasquatch could perpetrate.
Many will be most impressed by Matthews’ shadowing of Tom Biscardi – a man who could only be described as a dream candidate for anyone wanting to make an amusing documentary. Biscardi is a man with a staggering sense of self-importance (after all he made Bigfoot Lives 2) who leads a ragtag band of hunters including Youngblood – an overzealous tracker and Chico – a bewildered former veteran and fall guy to Biscardi’s own stupidity. Highlights include Biscardi conducting an interview with a bigfoot victim who does not want to be named – yet Biscardi uses his name in every sentence – it’s Rocky by the way. However, it’s the slick hunter’s frequent demands and insults that had me in hysterics – such as “Get me a snapple!”and “You ask him for the time and he makes you a damn watch!”
Shooting Bigfoot is a terrifically charming and inherently amusing watch thanks to the host of eccentrics that fill Matthews’ stellar feature. The film’s sinister undercurrent and genuinely terrifying conclusion also provides a dark edge to the tale, resulting in the feature feeling like a rather substantial watch. Now god damn it, someone get me a snapple!
Director: Morgan Matthews
Release: EIFF 21/22 June 2013