Hulu’s true-crime documentary, Sasquatch, begins its three-episode arc with a story “about a Sasquatch wasting three dudes in dope country.”
The series title feels like a bait-and-switch because it invokes the creature’s name to empower a metaphor rather than expose the mythic monster.
Titled “Grabbing at Smoke,” the first episode follows investigative journalist David Holthouse on a wild goose chase through his memory and the dangerous cannabis farming region of Northern California called the Emerald Triangle.
In the fall of 1993, Holthouse worked on a cannabis farm with a friend. The second night there, his friend received an intense phone call before two men arrived saying that a Bigfoot dismembered and killed three other men.
Twenty-five years later, Holthouse decides to return to the scene and investigate the triple murder.
Holthouse is a credible and compelling subject, and director Joshua Rofé effectively blends in creepy animation and an eerie soundtrack to create an atmosphere of anxiety and paranoia.
The first episode finds Holthouse at the start of his investigation and provides an interesting lesson on the dark history of the Emerald Triangle, including Native American massacres and the timber industry’s wanton destruction of ancient redwood trees.
However, the arrival of the hippies and back-to-the-landers in the 1970s fuels thriving cannabis farms off the grid and sets the stage for murder and mayhem in the shadows of the dense forest.
Back to the investigation, Holthouse fails to find any links to the 1993 Bigfoot murder story and hires a private investigator, hoping his connections will locate a lead.
The episode sprinkles in interviews with Bigfoot hunters and witnesses, including James “Bobo” Fay of Finding Bigfoot and Jeff Meldrum, a professor of anatomy and anthropology at Idaho State University.
“I’m convinced Sasquatch exists,” said Meldrum, who estimates 300 Bigfoot live in Idaho. “It’s the evidence that convinces me.”
The most interesting interview is Bob Gimlin, the gentleman forever associated with the famous Patterson-Gimlin film of 1967.
The documentary shifts back to the investigation when Holthouse’s private eye provides an intriguing lead.
A cannabis farmer named Razor recalls a similar story about three Mexican nationals killed around the Spy Rock Road area in 1993.
The episode ends with Holthouse planning to meet the mysterious Razor in person followed by a texted warning from the suddenly skittish private investigator.
“You. Please be careful.”
NEXT UP: Chapter Twenty-Five: Sasquatch. I review Episode 2 of the 2021 Hulu series.