Spoiler alert: The legendary backwoods creature sometimes called Bigfoot never sits down for an in-depth interview in Hulu’s three-part documentary crime series “Sasquatch,” but we wind up on the lookout for an even more terrifying monster(s) lurking in the dark.
“Sasquatch” reels us in with opening sequences focusing on a longstanding legend about the brutal murder of three men in the woods of Mendocino County on the north coast of California in 1993, and the rumors and whispers they were torn apart by a gigantic man/beast — maybe even the Bigfoot a.k.a. Sasquatch of lore. We see the infamous Gimlin-Patterson short film of 1967 of a furry creature walking along a creek, meet diehard believers known as “Squatchers” and hear from alleged eyewitnesses who swear they once saw Bigfoot, and they know what they saw and you’re never going to convince them otherwise. (There’s also an interview with a guy who claims he was paid a few bucks to don a gorilla-type suit and impersonate the big fella. I tend to side with Gorilla Suit Man.)
We’re also introduced to one David Holthouse, a peripatetic, intrepid investigative journalist who in 1993 was stoned out at a marijuana dealer’s house when he overheard terrified survivors of the alleged triple murder prattling on about how their colleagues were torn apart. Holthouse also thought he heard one of them say “Bigfoot” — and some 25 years later, he initiates an investigation into events that transpired in the fertile and dangerous redwood forests known as the Emerald Triangle.
At that point, which is fairly early on in the three-hour series, “Sasquatch” essentially dispenses with the silliness about a mythical creature and segues into a true-crime documentary about the marijuana boom of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s in Mendocino, as hippies and farmers staked out the fertile land and began reaping enormous profits. It wasn’t long before the peace-and-love contingent gave way to the Hell’s Angels and hardcore criminal entrepreneurs who had gun-toting security patrolling the property and illegal immigrants working grueling hours.
Holthouse is a charismatic, slightly offbeat character who nearly bursts with excitement as he tracks down leads in an effort to find out if there really was a triple murder in 1993, and if so, who was responsible. (One suspect: a local bad actor with the nickname of … Bigfoot.) He works the phones and takes meetings with possible suspects and eyewitnesses. We learn there were most likely a number of murders in the dangerous Emerald Triangle over the years — cases that were almost impossible to solve because the victims would be immigrants with no form of identification. We also see stunning archival footage from the 1990s, when militarized DEA agents in helicopters swooped down on Emerald Triangle as part of the War on Drugs.
Director Joshua Rofe makes great use of sparse, graphic-novel type re-enactment animation to augment the usual assortment of interviews and archival footage. “Sasquatch” also greatly benefits from having Holthouse as our narrator and anti-hero, who doesn’t believe in Bigfoot but definitely believes in leaving no stone (or marijuana plant) unturned in pursuit of the truth.