Hunting Bigfoot is a documentary-style film released in 2021 about one man’s obsession with verifying the existence of Sasquatch. Written, produced and directed by Taylor Guterson, the movie is uncomfortably voyeuristic at times but always feels authentic in its depiction of a lonely, widowed transient desperately trying to prove Bigfoot is real.
In an impressively realistic performance, John Green plays the tragic lead character alongside a host of residents around the Snoqualmie Valley in northwestern Washington state. The use of local non-actors adds a natural level of genuineness to the project. From John’s painfully estranged relationship with his family to his friendship with gym owner Ben, Hunting Bigfoot unabashedly shares the sadness of John’s journey.
John believes he witnessed Bigfoot (“I looked in his eyes”), but we never really know. A decade later, John remains consumed by his quest for what he calls “the primate.” One expert calls his obsession “Bigfoot gold fever.” Suffering through his wife’s death and financial ruin, John appears depressed and disconnected from reality at times, but his few friends respect his resolve and enable his behavior.
John needs a reality check, but he may be past the point of no return for anybody to give him one. Defiant and stubborn, John sleeps in a tent most nights, showers at a friend’s house, performs odd jobs for money, and intensely searches the nearby forest for any sign of Bigfoot.
We never come close to seeing Bigfoot in the movie, but John finds enough clues to keep hunting. A sample of hair results in disappointment, but a scat sample is promising. At one point, John says he took photographs of Bigfoot, but even the documentary filmmaker is skeptical of his subject’s claim after following him for years.
Hunting Bigfoot expertly blurs the line between reality and fiction, effectively using interviews with John’s family and friends alongside subject matter experts. The director Guterson delivers an outstanding character study of obsessive hope in the face of despair, portraying a man who thinks he has nothing lose. I felt pity for John, but I also admired the character for his tenacity.
Hunting Bigfoot is not trying to find the legendary creature. I’m not sure it’s trying to find anything. I think the film is simply the portrait of a broken man and how his search for Sasquatch has become a redemptive quest to prove he’s not crazy to the people around him and, more importantly, to himself.
NEXT UP: Chapter Fifty-Three: Kiamichi Bigfoot. I review the 2022 book by David Wilbanks.