Directed by Joshua Rofé
Aside from the paranormal and supernatural, one of my big interests is true crime. I’m particularly interested in serial killers, with a specific focus on Jack the Ripper. But any cold case or unsolved murder will usually catch my interest. And while paranormal documentaries have taken up most of my time as of late, I did get a chance to catch up on my true crime recently. A few weeks ago, I came down with food poisoning., Maybe from Papa John’s. Or Maybe from Subway. Perhaps we will never know. Anyways, I figured it was a good weekend to lock myself in my darkened basement and turn on the Netflix. And I binge-watched a lot.
Allen vs. Farrow was a fantastic but sorrowful look at the abuses suffered by Dylan Farrow. I’m honestly not sure how anyone could support Woody Allen after watching this film. Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel was a chilling look at the disappearance of Elisa Lam. But it was also a cautionary tale, proving that not everything is always as it seems. It also highlighted the fact that in the grand scheme of things, self-proclaimed internet sleuths ultimately do more harm than good.
I also watched Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer, about Richard Ramirez, and American Murder: The Family Next Door, which chronicled the slaying of Shanann Watts and her children by her husband Chris Watts. Lastly, I started delving into the “Delphi Murders” on YouTube. A sad but fascinating weekend. Ultimately though, it illustrates that whether it’s paranormal, supernatural, cryptozoological, or just the unsolved mysteries of Unsolved Mysteries, I love a good whodunnit.
Bigfoot the Serial Killer?
I’ve been hearing a lot about the Hulu series Sasquatch in the past few weeks. A mix of true crime and Bigfoot? I had to check it out. I knew the basic plot: investigative reporter David Holthouse decides to delve deeper into a mysterious story that has haunted him since 1993. While working on a marijuana farm in northern California, he hears about 3 men who were allegedly killed by Bigfoot. Now David and his friend, director Joshua Rofé, decide to investigate the decades-old story.
While most stories of Bigfoot encounters are mere fleeting glimpses of the elusive creature, there are the occasional tales of people being attacked by Sasquatch. Usually the aggressive behavior manifests itself as howls, screams, bluff charging, or rock throwing. But every now an then you will come across a story (usually from a friend of a friend of a friend who knows a guy) wherein Bigfoot actually physically attacks or actually kills a person. I’ve never put much faith in these stories, mainly because they tend to be anecdotal at best. You can have a first-hand sighting account, even a first-hand bluff charge. But if someone is killed in the woods, it can sometimes be tough to tell how they were killed. Was it a bear? Bigfoot? Or just another person? Hard to get a first-hand account from a murder victim.
And this is what Holthouse and company set out to uncover. Were these three marijuana farmhands murdered by an enraged, territorial Bigfoot? Or was there something even more sinister at play?
Sasquatch (Without Spoilers)
Sasquatch is divided up into three distinct episodes. Episode 1, “Grabbing at Smoke,” introduces us to David Holthouse, an investigative reporter who has gone undercover with gangs, neo-Nazis, and other ne’er-do-wells in order to get the scoop on these nefarious organizations. David recounts the bizarre and terrifying story he heard one night while at the cabin of a cannabis farmer he was working for at the time. As he is with the owner of the pot farm, two workers burst into the cabin with an unbelievable story. Three of the farm workers were killed – bodies mangled, torn apart, trampled – and the culprit is allegedly Bigfoot. This episode is more focused on the Bigfoot legend and mythos, with interviews with well-known Bigfoot investigators (like Dr. Jeff Meldrum and James “Bobo” Fay) and some lesser-known Bigfoot hunters.
“Spy Rock” is the second episode, and in it we learn all about the cannabis farms, the war on drugs, and the resulting violence in the Emerald Triangle. Comprised of Humbolt, Mendocino, and Trinity Counties, the Emerald triangle is the largest cannabis-producing region in the United States. Holthouse returns here to continue his investigation, and learns that the murders he is investigation were probably the same three men allegedly killed at an area known as Spy Rock. Holthouse presses for info, and runs into some shady and dangerous characters.
We finish up with “Monsters Among Us.” Holthouse closes in on the answers to his story, and we learn the true horrors of the Emerald Triangle. And who the real monster truly is.
As a true crime documentary with overtones of the paranormal, Sasquatch is a fascinating watch. While Bigfoot features fairly prominently in the series, this is mostly a documentary about the cannabis growers and the ensuing war on drugs that turned former Hippie communes into militarized drug farms. It’s a deep look into the world of pot farming, and how and why it turned so dangerous, and continues to be so to this day.
Rofé does a great job at pacing the story, building the mystery, and letting the viewer come along as each piece of the puzzle is unraveled. The animated recreations give the film a very spooky, foreboding feel. And it’s hard not to feel a bit uneasy while watching. Hothouse goes deep into the Emerald Triangle, has some dealings with some less-than-reputable individuals, and puts his personal safety on the line more than once.
Holthouse himself is an engaging presence. Having survived a horrific childhood trauma, and growing up into a gonzo journalist who went undercover to investigate some of the worst people on Earth, one can’t help but admire his testicular fortitude. Especially while heading back into the Emerald Triangle to investigate a wild story about a Bigfoot murder.
The film isn’t without it’s flaws, though. I have read a lot of comments online about this movie being a bit of a bait and switch, and to an extent, they are correct. For a documentary called Sasquatch, a large portion of the series is focused on the marijuana farming and drug wars. Bigfoot is barely touched upon at all in the second episode. But to be be fair, most “unsolved mystery” docs are a bit of a bait and switch. Your first impressions or opinions may be drastically changed by the end of the investigation.
The pacing was another issue I saw mentioned online. I think if your sole interest here is in Bigfoot, you may find yourself a bit disappointed. As I stated, a lot of this documentary is not focused on Bigfoot, per se. It’s more about getting to the truth, and putting the entire incident into perspective. But it can drag in parts, and certain sections could have been edited out. Ultimately, these scenes can be interesting, but don’t contribute to the overall story. This easily could have been cut down to two episodes. But personally, I always enjoy lengthier documentaries.
Lastly, I heard that some of the participants (mainly Bobo) were not happy with some of the editing decisions, and many comments were apparently taken out of context. Sadly, a pitfall for anyone who appears in these movies or TV shows. Editing can sometimes cause what the person was really trying to say to be muddled or lost completely.
If you like true crime, especially with a bizarre or paranormal twist, Sasquatch is a great way to spend 3 hours. It’s a slick, ever-morphing investigation into a bizarre yet fascinating urban legend.