"I said I would come on this trip to help you with your film, and it's your birthday and we're gonna have a great time but I'm not about to say I believe in Big Foot"
Jim (Bryce Johnson) is really into Big Foot. So much so that he has dragged his girlfriend Kelly (Alexie Gilmore), along with his video camera, out into the woods to find the site of the famous Patterson-Gimlin footage (the iconic Big Foot footage everybody recalls from their childhood). The deeper they head into the woods however, the more it starts to become clear that they may not be alone out there.
The found footage genre of filmmaking, especially when dealing with horror, is a very difficult approach. It can either be done perfectly (“The Blair Witch Project”) or it can be done horribly (any of the “Paranormal Activity” sequels). With “Willow Creek”, director Bobcat Goldthwait (who has been on a roll lately with his films “World’s Greatest Dad” and “God Bless America”) brings his bizarre and creative slant into the mix and manages to do something you wouldn’t expect from the genre, something original.
All the staples of the genre are on display in “Willow Creek”, Goldthwait however has just seemed to turned them up to 11. While the “outtakes” are often seen before or after the dialogue has been spouted by the person being filmed, here it seems like almost everything our two protagonists mumble into the camera, in particular Jim, is footage that would eventually end up on the cutting room floor. He really, really is bad at being on camera. The townsfolk they run into aren’t much better either. The awkwardness and uncomfortableness they exude when the camera is on them is truly a sight to behold. Even the core concept of the film, two people getting lost in the woods and being stalked by Big Foot is so heightened for the genre it’s hard to explain to people without sounding dumb (believe me, I've tried).
It’s the filmic techniques however, that truly makes the film not just stand out in a sea of terrible horror movies but also makes it extremely entertaining to watch. Instead of referring back to the standard shaky camera, night vision and running off into the distance we’ve come to expect, Bobcat lets the emotion and tension play out solely on the strength of the actor’s performances. Instead of ending with a bloody and exhilarating climax, our two characters just simply turn the camera on… and leave it on. It’s a ballsy movie in a genre film to linger on one static shot for as long as they do, but my god does it pay off and the results are genuinely spine-tingling.
While most horror films may not be for everybody, it seems that found footage founds REALLY aren’t. However, “Willow Creek” manages to bring something new to the table in a genre that has long been exploited and underdeveloped and with comedic artiste Bobcat Goldthwait at the helm you know you’re at least going to be entertained.
6 out of 10
Reviewed by Chris Swan