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Sundance movie review: Riley Keough, Jesse Eisenberg unrecognizable in unique 'Sasquatch Sunset'

Riley Keough, Jesse Eisenberg and Christophe Zajac-Denek play a family of Sasquatches. Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute
Riley Keough, Jesse Eisenberg and Christophe Zajac-Denek play a family of Sasquatches. Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute

PARK CITY, Utah, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- A-list stars are unrecognizable in Sasquatch Sunset, which screened Wednesday at the Sundance Film Festival. They play a family of sasquatches in full body costumes and makeup.

A mother (Riley Keough), father (Jesse Eisenberg), child (Christophe Zajac-Denek) and grandfather Sasquatch (Nathan Zellner) live their lives in the forest.

They communicate with grunts and gestures. but their activities are simple enough that it's pretty clear what they're saying.

David and Nathan Zellner direct Sasquatch Sunset as if it's a National Geographic documentary. It just happens that sasquatches don't exist -- or do they?

The costumes are as convincing and captivating as the ape costumes in Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan and Gorillas in the Mist. They're also as evocative as the original Planet of the Apes costumes, although a bit more animalistic since they're not evolved humanoids.

Riley Keough plays a sasquatch mom in "Sasquatch Sunset." Photo by Chris Chew/UPI
Riley Keough plays a sasquatch mom in "Sasquatch Sunset." Photo by Chris Chew/UPI

Oh, and they are anatomically correct, a point the film makes abundantly clear in more than one scene.

Even the credits don't name the characters, but they are distinct. The eldest has a grey mustache and the mother breastfeeds, and is pregnant with a second child.

Jesse Eisenberg plays a sasquatch dad in "Sasquatch Sunset." File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
Jesse Eisenberg plays a sasquatch dad in "Sasquatch Sunset." File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI

The child is noticeably smaller than the adults. That leaves the dad.

The sasquatches forage for food and face the trials of nature, and human encroachment. They never encounter any humans, but come upon a campsite and other leftovers of human society.

Riley Keough is unrecognizable in "Sasquatch Sunset." File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
Riley Keough is unrecognizable in "Sasquatch Sunset." File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI

Sasquatch Sunset is harrowing and tragic too. Nature is tough and not all of the sasquatches make it.

But life is bittersweet. That's true for humans and sasquatches so the joys of sasquatch life outweigh the hardships.

"Sasquatch Sunset" is Jesse Eisenberg's second movie at this year's Sundance Film Festival. File Photo by Christine Chew/UPI
"Sasquatch Sunset" is Jesse Eisenberg's second movie at this year's Sundance Film Festival. File Photo by Christine Chew/UPI

Fred Topel, who attended film school at Ithaca College, is a UPI entertainment writer based in Los Angeles. He has been a professional film critic since 1999, a Rotten Tomatoes critic since 2001, and a member of the Television Critics Association since 2012 and the Critics Choice Association since 2023. Read more of his work in Entertainment.