directed by Morgan Matthews
by Angelo Muredda There's a Weakerthans song called "Bigfoot!" about a Manitoba ferry operator who was harassed by local media for disclosing his alleged encounter with the furry legend. It's an oddly affecting little thing, especially around the chorus, where the man insists--likely just to himself--that he won't go through it all again "when the visions that I've seen will believe me." If nothing else, Morgan Matthews's genre-crossing Shooting Bigfoot confirms that the loneliness and hermeticism of the poor Manitoban's life after Bigfoot--defined by a vision he can't possibly share, for obvious reasons--is pretty standard stuff in the cult of sightings. Mixing Werner Herzog's eccentric profiles with both Christopher Guest's institutional satire and an unexpected but not unwelcome helping of The Blair Witch Project, the film starts as an arm's-length survey of Bigfoot culture before fully immersing itself in its manic compilation of signs and wonders.
Matthews is at his best when he cuts loose from his Discovery Channel instincts, jettisoning the position paper-speak, banal voiceover assertions ("I still wasn't convinced"), and archival news clips of frauds past to let his troupe of weirdos do most of the editorializing in their own wickedly funny words. That crew ranges from a pseudo-skeptical alpha male with a Snapple fixation to a couple of men with serious cognitive disabilities, for whom seeing uncanny beasts in the forest is an impairment more than a boon. Shooting Bigfoot also includes a proven huckster named Rick, a paranoid and deeply unpleasant "master tracker" who ushers us into a very different sort of movie in the final third. The found-footage horror that ensues as Matthews becomes the spookily-armed Rick's sidekick and surrogate pair of eyes is as much an epistemological as a structural cheat, yet the rudimentary shock of the reveal is well-executed enough that you probably won't care.