ON THE TRAIL OF BIGFOOT: THE JOURNEY *** USA 2021 Dir: Seth Breedlove. 95 mins
Monster or strange phenomena documentaries have changed since the days of Peter Graves and THE MYSTERIOUS MONSTERS (1975) or the most celebrated CHARIOTS OF THE GODS (1968) by Erich von Däniken. Bigfoot was even a star fifty years ago with the grainy 16 mm footage shot by Roger Patterson and Bob Gimli of a giant hairy creature walking away from a camera. ON THE TRAIL OF BIGFOOT (2021) is a new, serious documentary film maker by Seth Breedlove and his crew as they head to the Adirondacks of New York for an adventure-filled week searching for Bigfoot.
The team joins Bigfoot researchers like Steve Kulls, Paul Bartholomew and a host of locals. The film is shot in vivid definition and takes a look into the subject of Bigfoot, but also what leads people to devote their lives and (in some cases office space) to the search for a creature many believe doesn’t exist. The crew stops in Whitehall, NY, a town that has become a pilgrimage point for researchers as it is the home of an incident involving multiple members of law enforcement claiming to have seen a Bigfoot in a field.
The crew has multiple unusual experiences during the nights of investigation near Lake George, Whitehall, and Western Massachusetts. The film follows the research interspersed with moments of interviews detailing various incidents and reasons for belief. Statements from townspeople who had made casts of footprints or had encounters with a creature with glowing eyes lurking behind trees.
ON THE TRAIL OF BIGFOOT: THE JOURNEY (2021) is not just a simple “present the evidence and you draw your own conclusion production,” as there is some critical thought evident. The crew starts to question the very existence of Bigfoot but the possibilities of migration based on the sightings around North America. The Pacific Northwest is thick with forest, raising the possibility that something or someone could hide or exist within.
Director Seth Breedlove takes his subjects seriously and so do all that appear on camera. The picture is fashioned similar to a buddy film, or in the worst case DELIVERANCE (1972), with some lovely use of the natural forest and rivers. The towns come to life with looks into the BIGFOOT industry that has sprung up selling all matter of baubles, bangles and beads to the tourist, and in some case researchers.
ON THE TRAIL OF BIGFOOT: THE JOURNEY (2021) is also about getting out in the wilderness, hiking, investigating and literally being in the great outdoors. The film does not offer absolutes- no investigation could – it is packaged like a travelogue for the country. It is not fast paced and can be slightly preachy sometimes in tone, yet still worth seeing for the information and the country that might spark an interest in the viewer.
I am fortunate to live near the world class area of Banff, Alberta, Canada, and this is very much like the country in the film. Rivers and streams, long or short hikes depending on difficulty level. Oh yes, we also have our legends to of Merman and a huge grizzly bear called the ‘Boss.’ In the age of dangerous ‘hoax’ news, the Bigfoot legend is the fodder for endless chatter around the camp fire and an uneasy sleep in a tent or vehicle. ON THE TRAIL OF BIGFOOT: THE JOURNEY is another story in what appears to be an endless source for legend: creation itself. It’s fun. Believe even if you don’t for a moment.
Review by Terry Sherwood