Hot Docs 2013 Capsule Review: Shooting Bigfoot

Shooting Bigfoot

It’s probably fair to characterize director Morgan Matthews ‘Shooting Bigfoot’ as a bit of a freak show. Some of the people in this film come across as genuinely delusional. This is the dilemma I faced when I found myself laughing out loud at some of the truly hilarious moments throughout this doc that plays out like a real life Christopher Guest film.

I would lump Shooting Bigfoot in with such minor fare as My Date With Drew or Mansome, but at least this film is actually funny. Moments of genuine humour had me marvelling — sometimes suspiciously — at the comedic timing of some of these folks. The degree of self awareness amongst the subjects seemed to vary, but what began as a seemingly toxic director/subject relationship eventually transforms into a harmless, fun night out in the woods with a bunch of guys indulging in their strange hobby. It’s essentially one step away from live action role playing or fantasy football, seemingly focused more on the journey and less on the destination. It’s just an excuse to hang out with friends, crack open a few beers and scan the woods with military grade night vision goggles in search of 8 foot humanoid creatures. All in good fun!

I suppose the closest analog to ‘Shooting Bigfoot’ would be the number of A&E and History Channel shows focusing on swamp people and duck hunters. In this case, Duck Dynasty might be most comparable as I think the characters in that show share the same natural sense of humour and comedic timing that’s on display here. For example, in regards to a failed meat trap set to draw in a sasquatch, the following dialogue ensues:

“It just couldn’t be knocked off, it had to be jerked off.”
“So you think bigfoot has jerked off a piece of meat?”
“Yes I do.”

Some people are just naturally funny, regardless of how ridiculous they look or how insane their hobby may be. However, I do think an element of scripting is at play, particularly with one specific character.

This leads to the controversial ending of the film, and all I’ll say is that I think it’s perfectly in line with the spirit of the subject matter and more specifically, the history of the main character involved in the Blair Witch inspired set piece. ‘Shooting Bigfoot’ isn’t brilliant, but it’s a fun little comedy that made me wish I could spend a night hanging out with some of the folks in this film. — Jay C.