Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Kevin Shea, Sarah J. Ahearn, Greg Nutcher, Christina Santiago, Andrea Saenz, Alex Exum, Jason Criscuolo
Directed by Andrew Gernhard
Assault on Precinct 13 redone with an out-of-its-element, pissed-off Bigfoot terrorizing the few remaining cops and criminals trapped in an urban police station now cut-off from the outside world – I really wanted to love this one. While easily Synthetic Cinema’s best film to date, I still found Assault of the Sasquatch a frustrating b-movie marred by what seems to be their biggest company weakness: properly balancing horror with humor.
The Connecticut cops at the nearly abandoned precinct are almost uniformly played with deadpan seriousness. The scenes in which this ex-cop turned forest ranger and his visiting college age daughter confront the cunning killer with revenge and escape on his mind that destroyed their family carries some genuine emotional weight to it. The poacher that gets arrested after drugging and capturing a live Bigfoot is played with campy zeal, but not as a complete joke. The stage is perfectly set for an angry Sasquatch to wake up, bust out of the poacher’s van, and lay siege to the station. That’s when the trouble begins, and I mean trouble for the film itself more so than for the characters.
You either make a movie of this nature all-out goofy from start to finish a la Troma, or, the best route, you shoot for a straightforward thriller and then introduce a fantastical element that can go a bit over-the-top here and there but for the most part keeps it feet grounded in reality. Assault of the Sasquatch wants to have it both ways and in doing so results in wildly conflicting tones. When they inject comedy, the filmmakers have a bad habit of aiming for downright stupid. Remember the complaints about how the Looney Tunes anvil scene in Drag Me to Hell was just too silly? The makers of Assault of the Sasquatch aimed lower and not even adding in a little gore to the shenanigans hides the fact that their humorous asides tend to be as sophisticated as an Ernest movie. I hate Ernest movies.
Up until the last half hour when the actual assault begins, from the time it busts out of the van to the moment it finally figures out it can get into the station by crashing through the glass doors, Sasquatch mostly wanders around the neighborhood too frequently engaging in juvenile mischief. Swiping a slice of pizza from a drunk, spying on a lady taking a shower, and generally behaving more like a curious Muppet (Sasquatch does greatly resemble Sweetums) lost in the city than the ferocious monster angry about having been abducted from its habitat. Almost seemed as if the filmmakers were unsure how to sustain the central premise so they instead chose to hold it off until the third act by toggling back and forth between surprisingly effective cop drama melodramatics inside the precinct and Bigfoot’s R-rated Ernest Scared Stupid antics.
The script never fully makes up its mind whether we’re supposed to view this Sasquatch as a threat or cheer it on. One moment Bigfoot behaves sympathetically like Harry & the Hendersons or humorously uses his might to heroically save a prostitute from a violent pimp; the next it’s running off with the cop’s terrified daughter while the helpless father screams in horror to set up a scene that might have you wondering if the movie was going to turn into Sexual Assault of the Sasquatch.
Even as the movie hits its third act stride and begins delivering on its promise, yet another moment of tension will be sabotaged by the momentary introduction of a kiddy movie caricature of a “Dr. Livingston, I presume” type in jungle safari gear. That’s the story of Assault of the Sasquatch; for every right note it hits, for every spot of humor that works, for every solid performance, for every entertaining kill, sadly, there’s a negative counter that drags the film down.
And nothing drags down this movie quite like the introduction of a young Abbott & Costello meets Napoleon Dynamite duo following Sasquatch around town. One scene would have been bad enough, but these two antitheses of funny dolts are unwelcome recurring characters. The young portly fellow appears to have developed his acting style from watching Sam Kinison, screaming nearly every line in a shrill high-pitched voice, practically hyperventilating at times. Maybe I should be praising his performance? We’re supposed to find him obnoxious beyond any and all human comprehension and he succeeded every single time he opened his mouth. Despise is too slight a word to describe the emotional reaction I had whenever these two occupied my screen. When Sasquatch finally dispatched with them in truly spectacular fashion the joy it filled me with was immeasurable.
2 1/2 out of 5
Discuss Assault of the Sasquatch in our forums!