{Movie Review} On The Trail of Bigfoot: The Journey

The prospect of a bipedal, hairy, ape creature living in the vast forests of North America seems both outlandish and actually kind of reasonable to me. I love a good Bigfoot story. We all know them. They’re formulaic at this point. A person is out in the hinterland when they come across a smell or noise. Then all of a sudden they are face-to-face with a 7-foot giant looking down at them. The creature quickly disappears into the underbrush and the protagonists lives to tell the tale. The story is simple but there is something about these encounters that fascinate me. The idea that there is something unknown walking in the woods embodies the fear and wonderment of the forest. Bigfoot has become a metaphor for the humanity’s curiosity of the liminal spaces outside of our society.

Seth Breedlove’s latest documentary “On the Trail of Bigfoot: The Journey” from Small Town Monsters leans into this understanding of Bigfoot. Breedlove (Beast of Whitehall) returns to Whitehall, New York and the Adirondack Mountains in Upstate New York in search of Bigfoot. The documentary opens in June 2020 with Breedlove commenting on an all too familiar dilemma. In June of last year, the entire world was three months into a pandemic that had forced everyone home. Breedlove, whose job usually keeps him on the road, could no longer stand the cabin fever and decided to venture out into the wilderness in search of Bigfoot and a place to escape the chaos of the world.

In the opening moments of the film, Breedlove explains that his mission is twofold. On the one hand, it is about finding Bigfoot but on the other hand, there was a much larger idea he can’t seem to shake.

“It involves nature and man’s desire to be among the trees, streams, and mountains. It’s about Bigfoot as a driving force to reconnect with the world outside when we most need it.”

Bill Breedlove

We travel out into the wildness because we want to understand something about the history of the place and thus the history of our people- the history of us. In one interview, Bruce Hallenback begins his story, “The story of the Kinderhook creature is really the story of my Grandmother.” Whitehall, Kinderhook, Willow Creek, Loch Ness. These locations and communities become synonymous with the creature. We want to know more because we want to understand ourselves.

Yet this documentary cannot be separated from June 2020. On two different occasions in the documentary, Breedlove reflects on the trip as a way to escape the pandemic as well as the social unrest of society. In June 2020, America was in the midst of a reckoning after the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others, as people took to the street in support of Black Lives Matter.

Courtesy of Small Town Monster

Breedlove escapes from the social unrest of his society in order to reconnect with the land. The documentary follows four white men as they interview groups of predominantly white men venturing out into the wildness in search of a land that is not there’s. The search to reconnect with a land that was colonized by our ancestors is all too apparent in the documentary. If Bigfoot is real then can you blame him from running away from us after seeing what we do to the other communities living here?

I do not blame Breedlove or any of the other Bigfoot hunters for their desire to head into the wildness. As I said above, I too am fascinated by the mystery and the mountains call to me. On the Trail of Bigfoot: The Journey is a well-done documentary. I do wish more time was spent on the history of Bigfoot or even the history of the area. However, The stunning shots of the landscape are worth the price of admission. I honestly wished I was watching in on the big screen at times. The cinematography was stunning.

Yet, it is the journey that really struck me. As with so many Bigfoot searches, the Bigfoot at the end of the road may or may not be there but it is still worth the journey. Emily Fluer argues, “I have fallen in love with the chase of this creature.” I don’t know if a bipedal manlike creature roams the woods of the Adirondacks. What I do know is that something is calling us to the untamed wilderness, the flowing streams, and the expansive vistas. It beacons us from our crowded cities and gray office buildings. In that, Bigfoot exists and he is calling us all.

Courtesy of Small Town Monster