It’s absolutely imperative that you all start your 2018 off right. And the way to do it is by watching Discovering Bigfoot on Netflix.
Now, I have watched a lot of Bigfoot documentaries in my time. So many, in fact, that Netflix’s eldritch algorithm saw fit to recommend me Discovering Bigfoot as soon as it was released on the service.
Not necessarily because I believe Bigfoot is real – I’m not sold on this particular mysterious ape – but because they are usually a portrait into the mind of the person who created it. Bigfooters are some of the strangest people on the planet, and their documentaries are usually reflective of that. Imagine Werner Herzog‘s Grizzly Man, but without the distance between director and subject.
Of all these documentaries, Discovering Bigfoot is absolutely the most baffling one. Created by Todd Standing – a man so odd that even the most credulous Bigfooters think he’s a bit nuts – the doco is a punishing 2 hour journey around the Canadian taiga wilderness as our hero leaves apples stuck in trees as ‘gifts’ to the sasquatch and squints for minutes at a time at ‘footprints’ in the earth.
If you’re expecting a tightly cut, modern doco, then you should look elsewhere. Standing edits Discovering Bigfoot with the style and grace of an amateur YouTuber, and each ‘scene’ runs for an agonisingly long time. Bizarre titles flash across the screen which look like they were generated by a consumer movie editing program from circa 2002. He includes night vision footage of sasquatches apparently stealing his apples, none of which even remotely show anything like he describes.
Yes, I said sasquatches. Plural. He shows grainy night vision footage and claims that he is surrounded by up to five creatures, which make clearly fake noises which literally sound like Godzilla. If this guy wasn’t clearly living amongst the fairies, I’d assume this was a powerful piece of performance art about the nature of truth and meaning.
Somehow Standing manages to grift some actual credentialed academics, leading them into the woods to find Bigfoot, where they spend the entire journey looking extremely regretful and genuinely concerned he is going to murder them. Standing insists that they say, on camera, that Bigfoot is real, and they respond with the kind of linguistic trickery you might deploy against a particularly insistent, irrational child.
The real kicker, though, is the so-called ‘photos’ of Bigfoots (Bigfeet? I don’t know) which Standing claims to have taken. Please, look at them.
Let me be clear: these are not spoilers. In fact, Standing shows these photos repeatedly, for minutes at a time, throughout the documentary from the beginning, only explaining later that he believes them to be real photos of sasquatches. Until he explained that, I genuinely thought they were supposed to be extremely shitty artistic recreations.
(If you’re interested – and you absolutely shouldn’t be – people in the Bigfoot community have published an absolutely exhaustive debunking of the Standing photos. So exhaustive you simply have to wonder if they had anything better to do.)
But the joy of Discovering Bigfoot has nothing to do with whether Bigfoot was actually discovered or not. It is as a portrait of a man who is simultaneously clearly a massive hoaxer but also completely committed to the cause of finding Bigfoot. His lies only serve to compound his ultimate truth. Bigfoot is real, and he is stealing Todd Standing’s apples for some unclear reason.
I will never know why Netflix paid actual money for this documentary and insist on screening it, but I know one thing: it is essential hungover viewing.Image: Discovering Bigfoot