June 9, 2014

VOD Review: Willow Creek (2014)

When we first heard that Bobcat Goldthwait was directing a Found Footage Horror flick, we were all kinds of excited.

Most people know Bobcat Goldthwait as the actor/comedian with the crazy voice and quirky mannerisms; he's a really funny guy, but you either dig his shtick or you hate it. He's a lot like Gilbert Gottfried in that regard.

It's as a writer & director though that Bobcat's true genius shines through. If you haven't seen World's Greatest Dad or God Bless America yet, you're missing out of some wickedly fun, smart, and subversive stuff.

*Both of those movies are streaming on Netflix right now, so you should really go check them out. Once you do, you'll understand why we were so hyped to see Bobcat tackle a FF Horror flick about the Bigfoot legend.

So how did Willow Creek turn out? Really well, actually, but it's fair to note that this flick plays, and feels a lot like The Blair Witch Project. No, it's not a rip-off of TBWP, but aside from the differing subject matter, the two movies could almost be companion pieces. Is that a good thing or a bad one? Well that's up to you to decide. We thought it was a pretty good thing.

In 1967, Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin shocked the world by capturing the first ever real-life footage of Bigfoot, in Bluff Creek, California. Alright, that quick, inconclusive footage really didn't shock anybody, but it's still being talked about today, and has since inspired legions of Hillbilly-laden reality shows involving the search for Bigfoot, so, it's definitely kind of a thing.

Yeah. The rural folk love them some Bigfoot stories.
In Willow Creek, Jim and Kelly are a young couple who head off into the woods of Northern California to find Bigfoot for themselves. Jim is all about it, and pretty much believes that Bigfoot is real, while Kelly seems to be just an awesome chick who supports her boyfriend's delusions, because she loves him. Real or not, he wins either way with her.

She even wishes that their sandwiches were shaped like Bigfoot's dick! She's perfect!
The two head to Humboldt County, California to interview Willow Creek locals, eat at Bigfoot themed restaurants, and most importantly, find Bigfoot! To do this, they have to travel to Bluff Creek, which is a stream like 20 miles away from Willow Creek... which makes us wonder why the movie wasn't called Bluff Creek to begin with... Anywho, nothing will stop Jim and Kelly from their investigative mission, not even being told to "go back to town and have a nice slice of pie at "The Fuck Off Cafe." *The Fuck Off Cafe is not a real place, so don't waste your time driving to NorCal to find it.

That guy is about to take them to The Cornhole Bistro if they aren't careful.
So against that friendly advice, the two hike deep into the woods, set up camp, and I guess wait for Bigfoot to show up. Far be it from us to spoil things for you here, but suffice it to say that something does show up, and it's actually a raccoon. True story.

"Go away, raccoon. Go away!"
The main thing that makes Willow Creek work so well is that it's well-written. Most Found Footage flicks are light on script, heavy on improv, or both, and they tend to suffer for it. A good script is the backbone of any movie, and luckily for us, this movie comes with a really good one.

Most of the film is Horror-free until the third reel, but it's still enjoyable because the story and its characters are both believable and likable. Once the Horror elements do kick in, we're so invested in the character's well being that it makes it all the more terrifying. It also helps that Alexie Gilmore and Bryce Johnson both nail their parts too. The acting in Willow Creek is just as solid as is the writing, so for us, it's a double win.

Willow Creek also plays it pretty honest. After one night of being terrified in the woods, the characters say "Screw this, we're going home!," they wait for dawn, and they make a run for it. Most FF flicks have their characters linger in the "danger zone" for no other reason than "we need to know the truth!," which always feels like disingenuous bullshit to us. Here, Bobcat Goldthwait treats his audience with respect and has his characters make a solid effort to get the hell out of dodge while they can... if they can.

As for those Horror elements, while most of Willow Creek is "uneventful" preamble, the bits of terror that we do get are genuinely effective. The tent scene has us holding our breath and creeped the living shit out of us, and everything that came after made us feel panicked and all butt-puckered for the main characters.

Overall this is a solid flick that will give most viewers the willies, and maybe even nightmares.

That creepy bastard right there is a real person playing himself in the movie, and he seems kinda awesome.
It takes about 30 minutes for them to even get to the woods, and once they do, it takes about another 15 minutes for anything to "happen." The main thing that does end up happening is mostly shown in one incredibly intense, 20  minute long scene.

Now the first 45 minutes of the movie are good; it's entertaining for what it is, and the scares that we do get are great, but they just may come too late for some viewers.

"Let's just go ahead and talk about Bigfoot for the next 45 minutes or so..."
What in the hell was with that ending? We liked it, and we're not going to spoil it here, but we had to rewind the scene twice to grasp what was going on. We're pretty sure we get it, but we're not sure how we feel about it.

Everything happened so fast, that we felt a bit cheated. It wasn't very ambiguous, but it sure felt that way. I guess we just wanted another minute or two of a better payoff.

"You threw the map into the creek?!?"
There is some implied gore and violence towards the end, but we see none of it on camera.

Anyone who wants to see Bryce Johnson's bare ass is in for a treat with Willow Creek. Aside from that display of man-ass though, this movie is nudity/sex-free.

People need to stop heading deep into the woods to uncover the truth behind various legends, because no one who does that ever comes home with a good story to tell. Or comes home at all for that matter.

Should have brought a gun.
Willow Creek is a fun, creepy, intense foray into the Found Footage sub-genre, and I suppose the Bigfoot/Yeti/Sasquatch sub-genre, if there even is such a thing. Solid writing and acting, and Bobcat Goldthwait's true love of the Bigfoot mythos make this one a winner, and sets it apart from most other FF movies, in that it's actually an interesting and compelling watch.

If you're even remotely interested in watching this movie, then you should just go ahead and give it a chance. It's a good one, and it's most definitely worth the price of admission.


Willow Creek is available now on VOD, and is also in Limited Theatrical Release.


Is Alexie Gilmore Bobcat Goldthwait's muse? She's been in just about all of his movies, so she just might be. If not, she can always be our muse. Get at us, Alexie.

1 comment :

  1. Sounds like I might enjoy this. I usually hate the guy (Mr. Goldthwait that is), but based on your write-up I will give this a try in the near future.