The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot Review
Decades after serving in WWII and assassinating Adolf Hitler, Calvin Barr (Sam Elliott/Aidan Turner) is enlisted as the only man for the job: to hunt down the fabled Bigfoot. Living a peaceful life in New England reflecting on his lost love Maxine (Caitlin FitzGerald), the War Veteran is contacted by the FBI and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to lead the charge to capture the elusive beast that is carrying a deadly plague. Can he find the dangerous creature deep inside the Canadian wilderness before it’s too late?
“It’s nothing like the comic book you want it to be.”
I went in as blind as I could to this film that had been on my radar for the best part of a year. What a title! The film does lives up to the audacity of said title, but also doesn’t. In Grindhouse styling, even down to the choice of font, we are given a scenario that could be balls out crazy, but instead we are subjected to something a lot quieter and a lot smaller.
This is Robert D. Krzykowski’s directorial feature debut after years of producing other people’s films (Lucky Mckee’s The Woman) and writing/directing short films himself.
I love Sam Elliott and in this it’s no different. He is 'the Man', Calvin Barr, that is set up to kill two monsters, one real and one mythical, and it wasn’t until sitting down to watch that I realised that the character would be played by 2 actors, one in the distant past (Aiden Turner) and the not so distant past (Sam Elliott). Both actors, especially Elliott, have unique voices, and it’s good that Turner certainly has an air of young Sam Elliott about him physically because there was no attempt to make them sound similar. This may have been intentional, as it could have come across as daft had Turner imitated Elliott's brogue accent. The film has an early 90s, slow burn character study feel to it, like a lot of the indie films of that time did and flip flops between the past and the present using triggers for Barr to slip back and forth which never seem out of place and work remarkably well. These leaps back in time mainly consist of Barr reminiscing about his lost love, his assassination of Hitler and by mistakes made, by him having to make difficult choices. The 80’s set Elliott era storyline tends to revolve about growing old, in a The Straight Story kind of way. This is quite nicely done, and the film itself is very nicely shot.
Yet I was left wanting.
I found my mind wandering at times into places I felt this film could’ve gone, which may say more about me as a viewer than anything else. I wanted something a bit bigger, a bit more driven, maybe even a bit goofier? This was clearly not the director's vision of the film, he wanted to take the largeness of the conceit and make something a lot more personal, both most likely to himself (as it had been in development for years) and for the characters the film encapsulates. The Bigfoot section though fun seems to be a bit of an afterthought, again, it’s not really about the big fights, the big showdowns, but should it have been?
The premise and its execution felt a lot like the kind of posters that Cannon Films would use to promote their not yet made films at Cannes, where the poster, the title, the cast, were more interesting than the film itself.
Yes, the title says ‘The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot’ and yes this does actually happens, but with such big world building events, the execution felt muted. 'Fantastical' clearly wasn't what the director intended.
All in all I’m mixed on my thoughts for the film. I loved the quiet moments but really wanted to see elements of it pushed further. I am though excited to see where Krzykowski takes his talents next. I like writers/directors that don’t take the easy route, that try thinking outside the box. Having the great Douglas Trumball on board and Spectral Motion who created the Demogorgan from Stranger Things creating the Bigfoot, as well as John Sayles there as Executive Producer give the film a bit of gravitas.
If you are used to action packed dramas, or gonzo Grindhouse, this film is certainly not for you. If you like slow paced contained character driven dramas you may get something out of this. It tackles a lot of themes that are very telling, very poignant right now. The film is also very open ended, in a similar way to the current box office darling Us is. I like films that make you think, discuss, ponder. I just wanted to like this more than I did.
I watched this as a DVD screener, and the quality of picture on DVD was very good. Hearing the director talk in podcast interviews about trying to replicate the look of films from the 40s and 80s certainly came across in the cinematography and the choice to use cinemascope. The rousing score by Joe Kraemer is fine too. This is a lovely looking film especially on the largest screen you can find. No extras were included on this screener but the film, which is available on streaming April 15th, and then physical DVD and Blu-ray on May 6th suggests that the following extras are included.
- Behind the scenes
- Deleted scenes
- Elsie Hooper short film
- Joel Kraemer interview