There is a certain twisted, juvenile joy to be found in Drew Hall's Screen Media Films release Sasq-Watch!, a throwback to those silly little 80's comedies that you would find playing at your local multiplex for a week or so before they headed for their well deserved extended life on home video.
If this sounds like I'm insulting Sasq-Watch!, I'm not. In fact, I rather enjoyed spending a snowy holiday morning watching this surprisingly funny yet wholly predictable comedy starring Paul Brittain (Saturday Night Live, Hotel Transylvania 2) as Nigel, a longtime believer in Sasquatch who drags his brother Oscar (Adam Herschman, Hot Tub Time Machine 2) on nearly annual excursions off into the forests in search of proof that Sasquatch exists and proof that will allow him to claim the $500,000 prize offered by the Damien Hogel Foundation for providing such proof.
While we've become accustomed in these post-millennial days to Sasquatch films resting comfortably within the realm of indie horror, the 80's brought us a variety of silly little films that were more funny than scary and that found their source material in such urban legends as Sasquatch, the Loch Ness Monster, and others. Sasq-Watch! reminded me of those films and had me laughing like a schoolboy at the antics of Nigel, Oscar, their guide Samson (Neil Flynn, television's Scrubs), and Jamie (Christine Bently, Hot Tub Time Machine 2, Ballers), the impossibly attractive female who not so willingly finds herself accompanying Nigel and Oscar on their expedition. Of course, there has to be a wee bit of an adversary and Sasq-Watch! adds in former SNL'er Tim Meadows as Claus, a more high-heeled Sasquatch hunter who is a constant obstacle to the well intended yet mostly inept Nigel and Oscar.
The truth is that you don't much find films like Sasq-Watch! at the multi-plex anymore, the low-budget and groan worthy comedy largely being replaced by the equally low-budget and groan worthy indie horror flick that seemingly offers a higher return on the production dollar. Instead, Sasq-Watch! is the kind of film you find yourself watching late at night on your widescreen television that these days is vastly superior to the multiplex screens of the 1980's. It's the kind of film you watch while sitting in your secretly owned Sasquatch onesie while eating Cheetos and laughing about how that orange stuff always gets stuck on your hands.
Sasq-Watch! isn't so much a guilty pleasure as it is a comfort film, the kind of film you enjoy for all the wrong reasons and even while you acknowledge to yourself we're not exactly talking about brilliant cinema here. Sasq-Watch! could likely be a whole lot better of a film in the hands of someone like Will Ferrell, but it could also be a heck of a lot worse in the hands, say, of someone like Diedrich Bader, whose filmography may include more Razzie-worthy films than the rest of humanity combined.
And, truthfully, I like Diedrich Bader. Sigh.
Paul Brittain and Adam Herschman have a fun, easy chemistry with one another and they sell their ineptness here in a rather likable and appealing way. Christine Bently's Jamie is always a notch or two above Nigel and Oscar, but Bently makes Jamie fit like O.J. Simpson's glove inside this scenario. Neil Flynn is so rock solid here that you'll find yourself missing Scrubs a whole lot more. Tim Meadows could easily play Claus in his sleep, though to his credit he seems to be having some fun here and takes an extraneous role and makes it work.
Sasq-Watch! had me, strangely enough, dancing from beginning to end with a seriously weird but fun that had me wanting to rush out to get the soundtrack. Solid work is also turned in by D.P. Jamie Urman. Director Drew Hall, whose short film Convergence won both jury and audience awards at FirstGlance Film Fest in Hollywood and the Big Easy International Film Festival, may not be breaking new ground here but he clearly understands what this film is supposed to be and has a lot of fun with it. I'm also looking forward to what comes next for first-time screenwriter James Weldon.
I will always have a soft spot in my heart for films like Sasq-Watch!, a silly but enjoyable view with a cast that seems to be having a good time putting it all together. If you enjoy the less visible SNL films or the Will Ferrell films that didn't always quite work but you laughed anyway, then you'll be able to enjoy the groovy, fun-filled vibe of Sasq-Watch!
Now, I'm going to watch it again.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic