“Do you really want to live in a world knowing Bigfoot isn’t real…?”
…No. No I do not. And it’s not because I have some obsession with Bigfoot. I don’t. He’s cool, but give me ole Nessie or a goat-blood sucking Chupacabara any day. No, I don’t want to live in a world without Bigfoot because the hairy cryptid is more than just some mysterious monster roaming the woods and stealing picnic baskets, or whatever Bigfoot (feet?) do. A world with Bigfoot is a world that still believes that there is something more to life than our daily redundancy. Bigfoot is exciting, he is magic, he is that unattainable dream that we reach for anyway, with the hope that we can feel the softness of his fur, if only for a moment.
All that being said, I don’t think anything has captured the true wonder of Bigfoot as well as Zach Lamplugh’s 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Bigfoot.
15 Things You Didn’t Know is a mockumentary which follows Brian (Brian Emond), a journalist working for a Youtube platform called Compound, who is fed up with a life of covering clickbait stories and desperately wants to be given a chance to cover something “important.” When he and his producer Zach (Zach Lamplugh) are sent to the Appalachian foothills with nutty cryptozoologist Jeff (Jeffrey Stephenson) to uncover evidence of Bigfoot, the story isn’t exactly the big break Brian has in mind…at least, that is until they start to find signs that Bigfoot might actually be real.
Even if you’re not a fan of the big-footed title creature, 15 Things You Didn’t Know is a film that anyone can relate to, because we’ve all felt like Brian at one time or another. Which of you hasn’t wanted more out of life, or your career, or even just to wake up every now and then proud of what you’ve accomplished? Lamplugh’s film wraps its meaty, hairy hands around an honest dilemma that many of us face, which is to manage to get through our days without considering that we might be that harshest of self-critical labels, a “loser.” In the beginning of the film, Brian gets a taste of accomplishment, yet it’s a flavor that disappears so quickly that from then on, everything feels routine. Mundane. Uninteresting. Not even a paid mission to document Bigfoot can yank him out of his slump.
Brian’s fear of that “loser” title is exemplified by everyone around him, such as Zach, a content guy who we get the sense Brian is willing to cut loose for a chance at something better, but especially their guide, Jeff, who Brian looks down on before they even meet the poor guy. Now, you might think Brian sounds like a pretty unlikeable character, but Emond has such excellent timing for physical comedy with his wide-eyed disbelief at Jeff’s nonsense that it’s easy to be drawn to his side of things. And hey, when you’re meeting people like Jeff who drink their own urine, Brian’s constant belittling isn’t all that difficult to understand. You could even say it’s warranted.
Jeff’s bumbling presence is a big part of what makes 15 Things You Didn’t Know a Bigfoot comedy with big laughs and an even bigger heart. Stephenson radiates warmth and a childish wonder that had me reevaluating my feelings on those who claim to have seen Bigfoot. It doesn’t matter if the creature exists or not. What matters is that to people like Jeff, Bigfoot is that thing that gets them out of bed in the morning. On the surface, Lamplugh’s film is a hilarious mockumentary poking fun at clickbait culture and the buffoonery of social media “stars”, with more than a few moments highlighting Brian’s own pseudo-nemesis, Dirty Dolla$ign$ (Tevin Williams), and Jeff’s own channel, all of which is hyper nonsense. But underneath all of the absurdity are endearing characters I was surprised to care for as much as I did, exposing for the audience the fact that YouTube celebrities are real people with real souls, and not just the narcissistic weirdos you might think they are. Some, sure, but not all.
At this point in our culture, the very idea of hunting Bigfoot is a laughable one at best, and 15 Things You Didn’t Know encapsulates that perfectly. This is a film that takes itself about as seriously as Brian takes Jeff—which is not at all—and carries with it an oddball sense of humor that you either vibe with or call hoax on immediately and walk away. There’s a charm to Jeff constantly—and unknowingly—quoting Jeff Goldblum from Jurassic Park while saying he’s never seen the movie, or Brian believing he’s found evidence of Bigfoot, only to discover that it is, in fact, Jeff’s impressive, sizeable shit. The comedy is a mix of toilet humor and the eye rolling variety, but is played with such a straight face and frustration from Brian that there’s a goofy charm to it all.
Outside of a few moments that feel reminiscent to the Blair Witch Project and hearing strange sounds at night, the horror is near non-existent. 15 Things You Didn’t Know doesn’t concern itself much with the terror of Bigfoot, so don’t go in expecting The Legend of Boggy Creek. This is The Legend of Boggy Creek’s hairless cousin that none of the other Bigfoot movies want to talk to at the family reunion, except maybe Harry and the Hendersons. Instead, 15 Things You Didn’t Know largely leaves it up to the audience to decide whether Bigfoot is real, focusing on the magic of what the creature represents for us all, rather than the terror it would pose if you ever encountered it. Whether or not Bigfoot makes an appearance, you’ll have to see for yourself.
15 Things You Didn’t Know is probably too silly for some and will disappoint anyone looking for a rambunctious creature feature, but there is enough love and admiration for the creature present that is sure to have diehard Bigfoot believers pointing to the film and saying, see, that’s why I love Bigfoot.
15 Things You Didn't Know About Bigfoot comes to VOD May 7th from Cranked Up Films.
By Matt Konopka