Hot Docs 2013: Shooting Bigfoot and Scoring Laughs
The documentary Shooting Bigfoot follows three expeditions led by four different devoted and off-kilter trackers.
One subject is Rick Dyer. Dyer has had his name besmirched in the world of hunting Bigfoot due to a scam that took the media by storm. Once he finds Bigfoot, he plans to capture it and take its life.
Another hunter is Tom Biscardi, a well known tracker who has no interest in killing Bigfoot, but was involved with Dyer’s hoax. By the skin of his teeth, he was able to somewhat clear his name even if both parties have different stories. He was, and still is, a man who is passionate about the hunt for the elusive creature and will stop at nothing to prove his truths.
The last team of hunters are a couple of best friends. Dallas and Wayne may look unprepared…and that may be true. However, with their prior experience hunting the mysterious beast and their ability to “successfully” make familiar calls to it, they’re the underdogs in this truly oddball story of dedication and the line that’s drawn in the sand between hopefulness and losing your marbles.
Filmmaker Morgan Matthews doesn’t make his subjects likeable or unlikeable, but rather lets their boisterous outgoingness speak for themselves. It works because our main hunters don’t come across as false personalities. Their aggressiveness, frustration, and dedication never feels cooked up by a cheeky editor, but rather by men who are very proud and simply do not think before they speak.
Each hunter, whether they like it or not, picks their on-screen destiny. Dallas and Wayne are goofy, but a hoot to root for and follow on their surreal quest. Biscardi, on the other hand, makes for a great anti-hero. He snarls and gets flustered easily when his team isn’t on the same page as him, but we can’t help but find him interesting when he shows how focused he is to find Bigfoot and how unintentionally hilarious he is when he demands people to get him peach Snapple.
Because Matthews doesn’t tell us what to think, his direction feels natural – even though I wish he was on mic when he asked questions behind the camera. I wasn’t a fan of how the doc would take on a smart aleck attitude occasionally with its music. At one point when Dyer is explaining a past run-in with the creature, the background music swells and gets more dramatic. As I explain it, it sounds as if Matthews is trying to add more tenseness to the scene, but when you see it on screen, it feels as if Matthews doesn’t have the right intentions.
With all the laughs, the eccentricities, and oodles of quotable lines (my personal favourite is when Biscardi is describing how long winded someone is: “You ask him for the time and he builds you a watch!”), it’s unfortunate Matthews drops the ball at the very end.
Shooting Bigfoot has a non-ending that feels as if the director’s patience wore too thin and eventually threw his hands up in the air and gave up. Once you see what happens in the surprisingly creepy last third, you’ll understand why Matthews feels resentment. However, the ending still feels too abrupt and doesn’t end the way moviegoers will want it to.
Looking past that ending – the doc’s only real noteworthy downfall – Shooting Bigfoot is a ton of fun and is strangely fascinating from start to finish.
Catch Shooting Bigfoot at:
Tuesday, April 30 at 8:29 p.m. at the TIFF Bell Lightbox
Wednesday, May 1 at 11:58 p.m. at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
Friday, May 3 at 9:30 p.m. at The Royal Cinema
Visit the official Hot Docs webpage here!
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