Bigfoot Famous takes an overripe comedy premise — a band of self-absorbed influencers attempting to stage a hoax to gain followers — and twists it into a fresh, strange and dark comedy about the loneliness of living in our own little worlds, as well as the brutality of a culture that encourages it.
Coley (Steph Barkley) refuses to accept that her best days as an internet influencer are behind her. She’s a little older than most of them, a little less hip with the times, maybe even a little more desperate than the rest; she cites being recognized at Hot Topic as a sign of her perceived fame. Coley’s boyfriend, Jericho (Sam Milman), is just as addicted to the grind of social media. The two set out on a live-streamed excursion to find Bigfoot in a bid to gain more followers. They recruit a local expert, Marty (Chris Kleckner), whose mother was supposedly killed by a Sasquatch; he refuses to call it Bigfoot. The three of them bring along a guide, Triple T (Anthony Ma), whose karate seems suspect but whose price is right.
Things go south very quickly in the forest, in an unexpected and startlingly violent way. From then on, the story shifts into a different sort of hunt as Coley and company find themselves on the run with no cell service and an increasingly bloodthirsty online following. I don’t want to spoil plot developments except to say that Bigfoot Famous isn’t just a group of comedians filming themselves doing improv out in the woods and marketing it as a feature-length film. (Milman co-directed the film as well, alongside Peter Vass, and co-wrote it along with Barkley and Kleckner.) There are definitely a lot of comedy beats, some of which don’t work, but this is first and foremost a coherent story with a point.
As their plight worsens, we also see snippets of their influencer “community” crafting a narrative around Coley without knowing the true story of what is happening in the woods. Is she a murderer? A monster? A lunatic? Coley, out in the woods, has no idea what the world thinks of her. Her mission is driven by a pain she’s unprepared for but also a lot of self-delusions that only come to light as she gets closer to her goal of finding Bigfoot and exploiting it for attention.
Bigfoot isn’t real. But will the Coley who emerges from the forest be any more real?
By eschewing the easy storytelling path, Milman, Barkley and Kleckner manage to tell an entertaining adventure story with a sharp thematic point. Their story rarely goes in the obvious direction, and the characters are well-defined enough to elicit a healthy “Oh, shit!” when something bad happens to them. Although some of the comedy is naturally hit-and-miss depending on taste, all of the dramatic beats land appropriately and the ending is a perfect button on the film’s cynical view of the world in which we live. Bigfoot Famous isn’t what it seems, and it’s all the better for it.