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Beyond the Trail – Review

Beyond the Trail by Aleksandar PetakovBeyond the Trail: The Granite State Bigfoot Case
Directed by Aleksandar Petakov | Small Town Monsters

Seth Breedlove’s Small Town Monsters production company has become a monster in its own right. And I mean that as a compliment. Starting off small, with a handful of crewmembers producing the occasional documentary about a local Bigfoot or lake monster, things have changed a lot. The STM team is now producing an average of 3 feature-length documentaries per year, along with the On the Trail of... series, a YouTube Channel with episodic installments, and even a show dedicated to debunking alleged paranormal videos. Well-known investigators, such as Lyle Blackburn, Shannon LeGro, and Heather Moser have been collaborating more and more with Seth and his team. One of the earliest to join STM wass researcher Aleksandar Petakov, who returns this week with his Beyond the Trail series.

Beyond Small Town Monsters

Beyond the Trail is a new series that will be streaming for free on the Small Town Monsters YouTube channel. While just about every other STM entry has been directed by Seth Breedlove, Beyond the Trail sees directorial duties taken up once again by Petakov. Previously, he directed the On the Trail of...Champ miniseries from 2018. The On the Trail of… series has expanded to include Bigfoot, UFOs, and hauntings. And while Beyond the Trail is in many ways connected to those previous entries, this is a much more personal journey.

The first episode, “The Granite State Bigfoot Case,” takes a closer look at two separate possible Bigfoot experiences. In the first story, we meet Mike, a New Hampshire resident who has been having some odd experiences around his property. He tells stories of strange figures, unexplained lights, and rocks being thrown at his home. As a result, he called in the BFRO to investigate, and they present some of their thoughts.

The second story focuses more on a personal experience Petakov himself had while camping in the woods of New Hampshire. Petakov and his friend Josh were out camping and heard some unusual sounds. And they captured some of them on an audio recorder they had running overnight.

A Personal Look

Beyond the Trail - Aleksandar PetakovWhereas the On the Trail… series tends to focus on famous or well-known cases, Beyond the Trail is a much more intimate look at these personal experiences. In my opinion, I much prefer these lesser-known accounts. Don’t get me wrong. Small Town Monsters is pretty much the pinnacle of current documentaries on the subject of cryptids and the paranormal. So if the famous cases are your thing, you can’t do much better. But I often feel like the average person’s story gets lost on the usual TV shows. Typically, the Patterson-Gimlin footage gets rehashed for 20 minutes, and these layperson accounts don’t get much airtime at all.

Petakov devotes about half of Beyond the Trail to Mike’s story, but the other half shows Petakov and his friend Josh going back to the site of their nighttime experience. Personally, I enjoyed Petakov’s return to the woods better. It really gives an insight into what it’s like to go camping in the woods (in this case, in the winter) to look for Sasquatch. He gives a nice rundown of the equipment they will be bringing with them, and while nothing beats going out into the woods yourself, documentaries like this give a very good idea of what it’s like.

Overall Thoughts

I have to say, this episode really scratched an itch for me. As much as I love the famous Bigfoot stories, I always gravitate towards the stories that are experienced by everyday folks. Most of which don’t get airtime on the Travel Channel. Mike’s story reminded me of what I always loved about Finding Bigfoot: the personal encounters that the team would explore in the first half of each episode. It doesn’t go as in-depth as I would have liked, and I do wish this had been its own episode. If this is to be a series, why not devote more time to it? But that’s just me wanting more of a good thing.

The episode really shines when we get to Petakov’s encounter. For me, nothing really beats seeing his first encounter followed-up by a return to the site to see what else can be captured. It lets the viewer vicariously experience a Bigfoot hunt, without having to camp deep in the woods in cold weather. And honestly, it’s made me more eager to return to the site of my possible encounter from last summer.

Ultimately, Petakov has crafted a wonderfully intimate look inside the world of personal Bigfoot encounters. No rehashing of already well-known history here, nor are there any blobsquatches or jumping to conclusions. I’ve always maintained that most Bigfoot sightings are subtle, and leave the witness with more questions than answers. Usually, sightings are a fleeting glimpse at best. Perhaps some unexplained sounds coming from the dark woods. Not the sensationalistic stuff we tend to hear about on basic cable these days, where 12 Bigfoot show up and hang around camp for 3 hours, tormenting the campers.

Did Mike actually see a Bigfoot? Were Aleksandar and Josh stalked by a Sasquatch while out camping? Beyond the Trail is simple, sincere, and mysterious. And it’s a must-watch.

Beyond the Trail premieres Thursday, May 6th on the STM YouTube Page

Aleksandar Petakov