04th May2014

‘Willow Creek’ Review

by Richard Axtell

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


Footage has been found of a couple on the hunt for Bigfoot and the site where that infamous Bigfoot film of 1967 was made, known as Bluff Creek. That in itself suggests the fate of these two intrepid explorers as they search around in the nearby town looking at evidence and gathering interviews. Despite being warned away by locals through use of polite suggestion and angry threats they head off into the forest itself in search of the beast armed with a tent and their camera equipment.

“Ha, you’ll be fine.” Jim (Bryce Johnson) says to his girlfriend Kelly (Alexie Gilmore) at the start of this film, which no doubt makes the entire audience roll their eyes as they think “Oh no he didn’t!” Willow Creek is a hand held camera, found footage horror flick, so you prepare yourself for shaky footage, just off screen monsters and a slow build up of tensions across the film as you find yourself more and more unnerved about what is going on. Oh and try not to think too hard about Blair Witch Project otherwise you might find yourself drawing comparisons a little too often.

I like found footage films. Done right, they can really build up tension even though the majority of the film is just a bunch of people wandering around an area and filming way more than they need to. Probably going through about two hundred batteries in the process. However, with Willow Creek the nervous feeling in your stomach doesn’t really start to build up until you are through the first third of the film which consists of little interviews with locals and random outings for the couple, which, although very sweet and funny, don’t really add to the film. When they finally set off into the woods you feel the film really begins and the excitement really kicks off.

However, “real-time” footage is taken to the extreme here in one scene as they sit in a tent and are harassed by ‘noises and things in the night around them’ for nearly twenty minutes, a lot of which is them sitting and listening in the darkness. I can see how director Bobcat Goldthwait was trying to build up tension here, as the things outside get closer and draw in towards the tent but it turns out, twenty minutes is a long time. A very long time. After a while I was hoping they would cut away to the next day or something but it dragged on and on, so by the time the scary parts were happening I had almost lost interest.

Maybe I am comparing it to the king of found footage flicks, The Blair Witch Project, too much. The stories are incredibly similar, but if we disregard that, Willow Creek is an alright film. Despite feeling a little rushed, the ending was done very well. A good final scene to leave the viewers thinking, but it does seem to take a while to get there.

Willow Creek is in cinemas now. The film is released on DVD on May 26th.

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