There have been sightings of the mythical creature known as Bigfoot going all the way back to the late 1700s, with many more modern encounters even being backed up by purported photographic and video evidence. In all that time however, nothing truly definitive has materialized, and as modern life encroaches further and further into our nation’s vast wilderness, the chances that such a creature could exist without verifiable detection get slimmer and slimmer. There are still those that believe however, with some even becoming obsessed with trying to prove the existence of the cryptid once and for all. John Green is one such believer and makes for a fascinating documentary subject.
John claims to have seen a sasquatch up close and personal on April 17, 2009. Ever since then, he has devoted his life to meeting one again in the hopes of being the man who can finally prove they exist to the world. His single-minded focus on that goal has him living out of a tent in the woods of the Pacific Northwest, picking up odd jobs and utilizing a community food bank to survive, virtually estranged from his children, and with few friends. Filmmaker Taylor Guterson began following Green through the wilderness in the Spring of 2016 and continued to do so through the Winter of 2020, only missing a few periods during which his sometimes-ornery subject refused to be filmed.
We are treated to beautiful shots of the woods in all kinds of weather from sunshine to fog to snow that alone would make this movie worth watching, but it also serves as a compelling examination of obsession and how much it can wind up costing a person. Green does occasionally look back at the life he once had or express remorse for not seeing his children more often but then his stubbornness will take hold once more and he’ll refer to them as, “peripheral stuff.”
Thanks to help from others on the hunt for the creature, most notably gym owner Ben Cockman, he does get to do some genuine investigating. Ben supplies him with battery powered trail cameras to install throughout the forest one Winter and then helps him try to get a tracking chip into one via some bait. While these moments are interesting and help to enliven the proceedings, the film isn’t really about that with these instead serving as examples of the lengths Green will go for his fixation. Interviews with his adult children make it clear just how much the pursuit has changed him and lend an extra layer of sadness to the proceedings, particularly the clips with his daughter. In an age when it seems like it’s easier than ever for people to be pulled into the vortex of a variety of conspiracy theories, each seemingly crazier than the last, Hunting Bigfoot serves as a stark reminder of just what these rabbit holes can cost people by giving us an engaging portrait of one man with a particularly large monkey on his back. ★★★★
Rated r for some language and brief full nudity.
★★★★★ = Excellent | ★★★★ = Very Good | ★★★ = Good | ★★ = Fair | ★ = Poor