A fractured family battles against a tribe of angry Sasquatch.
Making it’s debut at the Nevermore Film Festival at the historic Carolina Theater in Durham, North Carolina, Valley of the Sasquatch succeeds in entertaining its audience with a better-than-average entry in the Bigfoot sub-genre – which is unusually over saturated of late – with a tale that is primarily and thankfully character driven holding its creature frenzy for its final act. About half way, the film’s lead, Miles Joris-Peyrafitte as Michael, comes face to face with one of the Bigfoot monsters in an exciting scene that shakes the film into monster mode for the final act with a series of creature attacks that will thrill most horror movie fans. The film succeeds more often with its Bigfoot than it falters making some of the tonal and production missteps forgivable. To keep things exciting director John Portanova casts modern horror film stalwart Bill Oberst Jr. as Bauman a wounded hunter on the run from a pact of the monsters. Valley of the Sasquatch manages to get its audience invested in its characters to make the final act a thrilling cabin in the woods riff on the Bigfoot legend.
The script from director John Portanova centers around a dysfunctional father and son reeling from the loss of the wife/mother in a tragic accident. Beside himself, Roger (Jason Vail) is now unemployed, homeless and nearly broke resulting in taking up residence in a family cabin deep in the woods. With no options available, Michael (Miles Joris-Peyraffitte) is forced to tag along. Roger’s brother, Will (D’Angelo Midili), and best friend, Sergio (David Saucedo), visit for a weekend of drinking and hunting. As personalities clash and tempers are tested, the group run across a pack of creatures resembling the fabled Bigfoot and a wounded hunter named Bauman (Bill Oberst, Jr.).
Fan favorite Bill Oberst, Jr. makes another solid supporting appearance in Valley of the Sasquatch as a hunter that encounters a trio of Bigfoot creatures coming face to face with the monsters in a way only Bill Oberst, Jr. can. Bill’s scenes are the highlight of the picture electrifying the otherwise more character driven interactions between the cast. When Bill reappears in the story the action heats up and the conflicts get out of control until the audience is treated to his high pitched squeals of horror. He always brings an intensity to his performances and he is provided ample opportunity to do so with Miles Joris-Peyrafitte and with the Sasquatch himself.
The Bigfoot in the film are an uneven batch in Valley of the Sasquatch, often spectacular and creepy but occasionally poorly lit or too obvious a man-in-a-suit – mostly due to the difficulty of achieving the correct tone and feel to the full body of hair. At times the creatures are approaching on par with Eduardo Sanchez’ Exists while a moment later they are more akin to that found in The Legend of Boggy Creek. It is safe to say that fans of Saquatch, Yeti and Bigfoot will enjoy the creatures on display in Valley of the Sasquatch. The final reel will have creature feature fans smiling with joy as the characters defend themselves against their attacks while holed up in the rickety cabin.
The thing that makes Valley of the Sasquatch stand out is how it focuses on the characters as they bond or bicker throughout the tale. Their conflicts add a lot to the monster encounters later in the film. This goes a long way in preventing the film from becoming another low budget waste of time. Miles Joris-Peyrafitte is terrific as the young protagonist Michael in constant odds with his down-on-his-luck father and Sergio who test the boy’s muster at every turn. Miles provide an admirable strength to Michael. Jason Vail effectively portraits of a man on a downward spiral bringing an authentic, complex man struggling with his own poor decisions and actions. Daivd Saucedo seems to relish in the often questionable behavior of Roger’s best friend Sergio. D’Angelo Midili rounds out the cast bridging the gap between Michael’s high ground and his brother’s and Sergio’s lackadaisical approach to life. Director John Portanova gets the most out of his cast.
For the most part Valley of the Sasquatch is an entertaining and admirable entry into the current Bigfoot cinema craze by establishing a core set of characters and deliberating on their inter-dynamics, relationships and conflicts. If it were solely focused on the creatures themselves, it could have easily collapsed on itself. While the creatures are sufficient – and often superior to similar monsters – they occasionally suffer with some poor lighting, especially in a darkly lit cave scene, and full body suits are not entirely convincing. However, there are a number of scenes where the director’s skill shines through resulting in attention getting moments such as the Sasquatch’s first appearance at the camp site and the attack on Bill Oberst Jr’s Bauman. Most likely better suited for fans of Bigfoot movies Valley of the Sasquatch offers enough thrills, character moments and Bill Oberst Jr. to satisfy most horror fans.
2.5 out of 5