Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Sean Kelly

Hot Docs 2013: My Thoughts on Shooting Bigfoot


It’s fun to think about the fact that there is much in our world that has yet to be discovered.  For decades, we have heard rumours of creatures that exist in the wilderness.  In the Himalayas it is the Abominable Snowman, in Scotland it is the Loch Ness Monster, and here in North America it is Bigfoot.  Shooting Bigfoot takes a look at group of individuals, who takes the search for Bigfoot very serious and determined to prove their existence once and for all.

British director Morgan Matthews has always been interested in the concept of Bigfoot since he was a kid.  As he got older, he became more skeptical and found it harder to believe in the existence of Sasquatches.  He decides to take a trip to the United States and locate some real Bigfoot hunters to help convince himself once and for all of the creature’s existence. 

Matthews begins with friends Dallas and Wayne, who appear to be quite serious in their Bigfoot research, but seem a little bit on the crazy side.  A 911 call of an apparent Bigfoot sighting leads Matthews to San Antonio, where he comes across Bigfoot Tracker Rick Dyer.  Dyer seems very convinced that there’s a Bigfoot in the area, however Matthews is skeptical, since Dyer was previously involved with a hoax in 2008, where he claimed to have a dead Sasquatch body.  Apparently involved with this hoax was Tom Biscardi, who has been hunting Bigfoot since the 1970s.  Insulted at Matthews suggestion that he had involvement in Dyer’s hoax, Biscardi dares Matthews to comes along on his next hunting expedition.  As such, the film follows Matthews as he accompanies all three groups and goes on a Blair Witch-style hunt for Bigfoot.

I can say without a doubt that this is a very fun film to watch.  That said, this is a tricky film to call a true documentary.  Even though the subjects are real and you can still call the film non-fiction, there are quite a few convenient coincidences in the film and it is quite obvious that something is not right with the events of the film.  The question that must be asked is whether Morgan Matthews was an objective filmmaker, who was duped by these “Bigfoot Experts,” or if he was purposing making a film that can be viewed as a piece of “infotainment.”

Throughout the course of the film, you come to understand what makes these Bigfoot hunters tick.  Dallas and Wayne seem dead convinced at the existence of Sasquatches, however it’s also completely obvious that they aren’t the most sane of individuals.  There is one scene, where Dallas talks about how he can hear Sasquatches, because he as a piece of sheep bone in his skull, which is quite humorous to hear him explain.

Tom Biscardi also comes off as a true believer, even though he seems more concerned with the fame and fortune of capturing Bigfoot.  While criticising someone, who leads the team down a dead end, Tom says that you become delusional after a while.  Even though he was talking about another individual, this statement definitely seems to fit Biscardi to a T, since he has become so convinced in Bigfoot’s existence, that he won’t rest until he has one captured and in his possession.

Rick Dyer is probably the most interesting of the Bigfoot hunters, since he is also the most shady.  There are a number of homeless individuals living in the woods Rick and Matthews are camping in and the duo befriend an individual named Jack.  It eventually becomes apparent that there is something not right about Jack, who repeatedly shows up at the duo’s campsite and becomes increasingly disturbing.  When various odd events begin happening around the campsite, Matthews seriously begins to suspect that Dyer is playing a prank on him.

Much of Shooting Bigfoot is played for comedy and it’s obvious that much of the point of the film is to ridicule these “expert’s” devotion to finding Bigfoot.  That said, the film does get quite creepy towards the end and there is one hell of a payoff.  Sadly, only one of the three expeditions has any real closure to it and the other two stories are sort of left hanging.  However, the film goes out with such a bang, that it doesn’t even matter.

Overall, I would say that Shooting Bigfoot is not going to change your mind about the existence of Bigfoot and there is enough evidence to suggest that much of the events of the film were staged, whether or not director Morgan Matthews knew of it.  That said, this was a highly entertaining film and I greatly enjoyed myself watching it.  Also, I have to emphasize one more time, that the film has one hell of ending, which definitely makes the film in my mind.


Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described ├╝ber-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).