In a film with no dialogue whatsoever it can be hard to connect with a set of characters — especially if those characters are literal sasquatches. But that challenge was part of the fun for Riley Keough and her co-stars, giving them the opportunity to really “go feral.”
“Sasquatch Sunset,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah on Saturday, follows a family of Bigfoot over the course of a year. The film has no dialogue or narration, portraying these creatures as just that: creatures. They communicate via grunts, offering a “real” depiction of the daily life for the family.
Admittedly, Keough wasn’t totally sure she’d even be physically able to play one of the creatures.
“The real, biggest question I had was, could I do it?” Keough recalled at TheWrap’s Sundance Portrait and Interview Studio presented by NFP. “Because there’s no gauge of ‘can I be a good Sasquatch?’ that I could [look to]. I ended up walking around my room in [a] Sasquatch headspace. I got into an ape position. I was like, ‘Yes, I could do that!'”
Brothers David and Nathan Zellner co-directed the film, with Nathan starring alongside Keough. And, according to director David Zellner, getting into that headspace and playing in it throughout the film was part of the attraction to the story.
“One of the things that drew us to this, initially was there’s something very fun and desirable about being able to go feral,” he said with a laugh. “And if someone is into that as well — if they’re not into it, then it wouldn’t work at all. But once we’re in and everyone was in a groove with these characters and very much enjoying it, we’re like, oh, this is gonna work out great!”
Once the actors figured out the physicality the challenge became figuring out how to tell the story without speaking.
“It was really interesting, because there were a few phases,” Keough explained. “Because there’s the self discovery as your own Sasquatch. And then there’s the ‘How do I interact with all of these characters?’ That was what was really interesting in the rehearsal is that I’m gonna react; I have a different relationship with my child than I am with the alpha and Jesse [Eisenberg’s] character.”
She continued, “We had this time to improvise and see how our characters would interact with one another, which was really fun.”
In the end, piecing it all together and seeing the end result amazed the cast.
“It’s such an incredible achievement to do that, to make a movie about Sasquatches and have the ridiculous things that they have in their film, but also be able to go on this real, emotional journey with these characters and feel for them in this way that feels so human,” she added. “It’s incredible.”
You can watch TheWrap’s full interview with the cast and directors of “Sasquatch Sunset” in the video above.
“Sasquatch Sunset” is a sales title at Sundance.