24th May2014

‘Willow Creek’ DVD Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Bryce Johnson, Alexie Gilmore | Written and Directed by Bobcat Goldthwait

willow-creek-cast

Another week passes and yet another found footage film is out. Lately though I’d say I’ve been lucky and the ones that I’ve had to review have actually been good movies. Willow Creek is an interesting idea, hunting down Bigfoot at least pulls away from the usual ghost hunting that seems popular with found footage, and with a director/writer like Bobcat Goldthwait you can’t help but be hopeful that Willow Creek could be something just a little special.

When Jim (Bryce Johnson) and Kelly (Alexie Gilmore) decide to make a documentary about Bigfoot the best place to start appears to be Willow Creek. As they arrive though they soon find that the locals are not as welcoming as they would have hoped, and they soon find it clear that people just want them to leave. Ignoring the threats and warnings though Jim and Kelly make their way into the woods to film their documentary, and everything seems to be okay. As darkness falls though and they setup camp, they soon find that they may not be alone.

To describe Willow Creek in its basic form it is Blair Witch Project with Bigfoot, if that is what actually makes an appearance in the film. We have the initial setting up of the story, using interviews with the locals and experts, building up information about Bigfoot and what we are going to be hopefully seeing when they make their way into the woods. As night falls the fact that we are stuck in the tent with the two characters creates a claustrophobic feel, then of course things start moving outside, simple but effective, it works. The fact that the tent scene lasts so long shows confidence in the fact that we don’t need to see what is out there in the dark, we just need to know that something is there, and close.

This is the strength of Willow Creek, it’s not a typical horror that needs to show some huge beast to be effective, Goldthwait has a vision for what he wants to create for the audience and a confidence to push it in our faces, and at our ears. I can’t always say the outcome makes sense, but I tend to think that is the point and without spoiling the finale it is both ambiguous and so out there it’ll leave you wondering exactly what you just saw. This is what a good horror film should do, even if the scares don’t hit hard, to leave the audience confused and unsettled can have just as much of an effect.

Willow Creek is a film that knows what it is doing, we have two characters played by Bruce Johnson and Alexie Gilmore that are likeable people and the audience can relate to them, they feel real and thankfully not annoying, which is often a trap with horror movies. These characters are then pushed into a situation where they are in real danger, and even if the thing attacking them Bigfoot or just locals wanting to get rid of the outsiders, the danger feels real and close to the audience. It’s also noteworthy that even though this is a film about searching for the Sasquatch it almost feels that the legend of the creature is respected, it is not just another monster exploited for a horror film.

If Willow Creek is an example of the films that Bobcat Goldthwait is going to provide us with I can see myself quickly becoming a fan of his. Having recently watched God Bless America as well, both that and Willow Creek show a confidence in the director that he is going to provide you with no holds barred experiences and you are going to enjoy the ride. Willow Creek is a good horror film that doesn’t look to provide the answers as to whether Bigfoot exists, instead it looks to give a more human story about two people going into the woods and finding themselves quickly out of their depth, something that the audience can relate to in a believable way. Fun and unsettling, this is another case of found footage done right.

Willow Creek is released on DVD on May 26th. Check out Richard’s review of the film (from its recent cinema release) right here.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek
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