Movie Review: WILLOW CREEK

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Willow Creek Review

Review: Willow Creek / Cert: TBC / Director: Bobcat Goldthwait / Screenplay: Bobcat Goldthwait / Starring: Bryce Johnson, Alexie Gilmore / Release Date: TBC

Comedian/actor Bobcat Goldthwait has directed some of the most intelligent and dark comedies of recent years, including World’s Greatest Dad and God Bless America. So when he decided to take on the increasingly tired found footage horror subgenre, hopes were extremely high for something which would be like the found footage equivalent of Cabin in the Woods. Willow Creek is a found footage film about the search for Bigfoot and doesn’t exactly reinvent and deconstruct the genre but is remarkably solid for a first horror film.

Beginning in the tried and tested manner, the movie sees Jim (Johnson) and Kelly (Gilmore) gearing up and making their way around Bluff Creek, shooting a documentary near where the infamous Patterson-Gimlin footage was filmed. They interview locals, a variety of earnest and strange folk, in early comedic scenes that are reminiscent of The Blair Witch Project. Then, ignoring all warnings, they make their way into the woods and encounter some sounds in the night which increase in intensity as time goes on.

Apart from a throwaway line of dialogue about a wannabe actress failing to get a sanitary towel commercial role, there isn’t any meta-commentary or insight into the found footage subgenre. What Goldthwait has instead made is a serious found footage film which actually works and deserves to be stood up and counted amongst the best examples in the genre.

Goldthwait’s skill is in his execution of the elements of the film. Too often we get unlikeable protagonists who meet a terrible fate that we do not care about and we are expected to believe that someone assembled the horrific footage for some unknown reason and that the victims never thought they could run away faster without the camera. Here it works because the scares come in confined settings and rely mainly on sound effects work. There is a scene that is all shot in one take that lasts for 19 minutes inside a tent which is probably the most tense and scary thing seen all year and the actors rise to the occasion with believable reactions to whatever is happening outside. This leads to a climax which involves lots of running around and some horrifying sound work which truly curdles the blood.

Considering the crimes that get committed in the name of found footage at the bottom shelf of Blockbuster every week, Willow Creek is something to be savoured, a found footage experience that actually works. You just can’t help wishing that it was something more insightful and substantial than it actually is.

Expected Rating: 8 out of 10

Actual Rating:

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