Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Willow Creek

Title: Willow Creek
Director: Bobcat Goldthwait
Released: 2013
Starring: Alexie Gilmore, Bryce Johnson, Laura Montagna, Bucky Sinister, Peter Jason, Timmy Red

Plot: Jim (Johnson) is a Bigfoot believer keen to capture footage of the mythological creature and now dragging his non-beliver girlfriend Kelly along for the ride they head for the town of Willow Creek.

Review: Despite being best known as a director more for his warped comedy movies in tone with his unique comedy style, this film marked a rare venture into horror for Bobcat Goldthwait as here he turns his focus to crafting a found footage horror which in turn might be one of the best offerings from the genre since “The Blair Witch Project”

Starting off light-hearted as our film making couple roll into “Willow Creek” which is not only seen as the Bigfoot capital of the world but also home to the Bigfoot festival, though judging by the amount of cash-in’s on the myth are scattered throughout the town from wood carvings to stores named after the creature it would seem that its a festival that runs all year round. Still as we soon discover the locals all have their stories to tell or even a song to offer on the Patterson-Gimlin footage that I’m sure we are all familiar with showing the Sasquatch striding along the sandbar and to Jim serves to fuel his belief in the creature while his girlfriend continues to defiantly deny that it could be real.

This gentle start to the film might be a little off-putting to some viewers, its worth sticking with as Goldthwait seemingly establishing the background colour is infact just luring us into a false sense of security which is slowly peeled away when the couple head off into the woods to shoot their own footage and choose to ignore the stern warning by the man they meet at the entrance to the woods to head back to town.

Once we get into the woods the real horror vibes start to come quick and fast as the couple soon find themselves quickly out of their depth with the tension being cranked up to an all time high during the 18 minute scene of the couple in the tent while something lurks outside the canvas walls and which was shot in one take and works perfectly to put the audience completely on edge as all we can hear are strange whooping noises, wood being knocked together and the occasional rock hitting the side of the tent that leave you expecting something to burst through at any moment.

It's simple concept for sure but one which works well here, largely thanks to Goldthwait avoiding all the usual pitfalls of the found footage genre, such as shaky camerawork while characters remark about things we would be able to see if someone wasn’t shaking the darn camera! Instead the camerawork is crisp throughout which really takes us on the journey with the couple especially as they enter into the woods which seem to envelop them much like the audience.

Okay minor spoiler time but I feel its worth noting that this is a bigfoot movie were you don’t get to see a bigfoot, which might be something of a blessing considering some of the monstrosities this frequently overlooked subgenre has produced over the years. This might be seen as a disappointment but here somehow it works with the noises we hear and general taunting conjuring more horrific imagery than perhaps the budget would have allowed.

Considering Goldthwait’s background in comedy its surprising to see him being equally effective as a horror director and as with Kevin Smith’s “Red State” it leaves me wanting to see work more in the genre if only to see what else he would bring especially in these times were the horror genre is crying out for new ideas and fresh takes which this certainly provided, even though this might not be so apparent to those going in expecting something more visual and less subtle than we ultimately get here.

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