Willow Creek (2013)
Jim and his girlfriend Kelly are visiting the infamous Willow Creek, the home of Bluff Creek, aka the original alleged Patterson–Gimlin Bigfoot footage, to prove that the story is real by capturing the beast on camera. But deep in the dark woods, lost, isolated, and hours from human contact, neither Kelly or Jim are prepared for what is actually hidden between the trees....
REVIEW: The main reason I picked Willow Creek to review is, much like with Alien Abduction and that sub-genre, I find it difficult to find a truly good, scary, Sasquatch movie, especially of the found footage variety. The Lost Coast Tapes was a decent enough effort that came out a couple years ago, and a couple of the Bigfoot-focused episodes scattered across all three seasons of the Animal Planet TV show Lost Tapes are fine, and while it may not be found footage The Legend of Boggy Creek is the easy go-to title for creepy Bigfoot movies, but that's really all I can think of off the top of my head. There was a movie that came out earlier in 2014, Happy Camp, that I had hoped would be able to fit that bill, but sadly it turned out to be a pretty big disappointment once the laughably-cartoony killer Sasquatches actually showed up, totally deflating any bit of genuine tension that movie had managed to build up, up to that point.
It was actually a couples years ago that I first heard about Willow Creek, a supposedly-creepy upcoming found footage killer Bigfoot movie being written and directed by none other than Police Academy actor (among many other titles), Bobcat Goldthwait. Quite a lot of time went on though and it still wasn't being released outside of the festival circuit and I had all but given up hope on being able to see it anytime soon. But than the lovely folks at Dark Sky Films picked it up for distribution and now it can currently be viewed via Video-on-Demand services such as Itunes, in addition to having been released on DVD and BluRay recently.
The movie started off well enough, the two main leads were likeable (however their likeability factor started to dwindle as the movie went on and their sanity started going out the window as they got more and more lost and more and more strange things started happening to them, but I won't hold that against the movie as that was kind of the point, to show their descent into madness), and it was quite fun as we were brought along with them via their camera on their summer vacation to make a homemade documentary on this area and it's legends, spending time with some quirky interviews (who were all actual real people living in this area in real life), interesting factoids (most of which I already knew but it was nice to see Bobcat's knowledge on all this was pretty high), and really breathtakingly beautiful scenery and environments. For the portion of the movie I was fully on board and loving every minute of what was happening on the screen. Sure, nothing creepy was happening yet (like most found footage movies they build up to that stuff later), but I was enjoying everything all the same.
But than that portion of the movie just kept going and going and going. It went on for way too long, leaving only a short amount of time left in the movie for these two characters to make their way into the forest and for anything really creepy to happen, the good meaty stuff of the movie that people watch these for. But as soon as they finally entered the woods for their weekend camping, ready to search for and document any proof of Bigfoot's existence, I was back on board. Sure, there wasn't a whole lot left to the movie (less than half of it) and I was getting antsy up to that point, but this was the part of the movie that shit was really gonna start happening.
I was so ready.
They came across some fur samples stuck on a tree, questionable footprints, and there were a few small moments of hearing things banging off of trees in the distance with some indescribable howls (one of the recurring things that people with Bigfoot experiences seem to talk about is how the creatures throw rocks against trees to try to scare them off, so it was nice to see this movie touch on that aspect), but those moments were so far and few between, the majority of the time it was our two leads wandering around in the forest and getting more and more lost and loosing their tempers on each other. That was pretty much it for 95% of the time the movie focused on them in the woods, which itself only made up less than half of the movie.
And than the ending came and I was left with a giant "WTF did I just watch?" kind of attitude. Not even one single shot of a Sasquatch was to be had for starters. I know these found footage movies usually don't show much, but they do usually show at least a few quick shots, but this one had nothing. There were tons of auditory growls, grunts, and roars but nothing visual. Well, except for the fat, naked, crying woman that was stood there in the darkness for no reason while all hell was breaking loose in the last five minutes of the movie. Yeah, don't worry about being confused by that because it was just as random as it sounds and doesn't get any explanation whatsoever before the movie ends ten seconds later.
There was one really cool sequence during the last bit of the movie though, a sequence that just about had me fully back on board if it wasn't for the fact that the movie returns to being crap after it's over, and those who have already seen the movie know exactly what sequence I'm talking about. It's a long 10-15 minute sequence, all done in one single take without any cuts, of the two characters inside their tent at night as we hear the Sasquatches roaming around their campsite outside, grunting and growling and rummaging through things, with the occasional bump up against the tent. No dialog, no music or other sounds other than the aformentioned sounds of the large creatures, and we're in the tent with our two main characters, experiencing every bit of terror alongside them, and like I said the entire long sequence was all done in one take with no cuts, and it was effective as all hell. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time with goosebumps running up my arms, and it was a decent ways into the scene before I realized I hardly even took a breath for the last few minutes. It was such a great scene that made the rest of the movie's downfalls up to that point worth it...
...except the movie went right back to the same downfalls as soon as the scene was over, adding in a few more to boot, just all around leaving me with a sour and confused taste in my mouth by the time the credits very suddenly rolled.
I really hate the fact that I disliked Willow Creek. It started off quite good, with two leads I was able to get behind pretty quickly and that I enjoyed watching, and it's quite obvious that Bobcat Goldthwait is a genuine fan of the whole Bigfoot phenomenon as he included lots of little pieces of info and aspects that only diehard fans would pick up on that most Bigfoot-related movies tend to leave out, plus interviewing real life locals of that area was a really nice addition.
Unfortunately there's a bit too much of that, almost as if he was trying to make a real documentary for awhile and then decided to switch it to a found footage horror at the last minute. It takes way too long for things to get going and when they do, not much even happens. Add to that the fact that you never even get so much as a quick glimpse of a Bigfoot, and a very sudden confusing WTF ending, and unfortunately not even the one really truly awesomely terrifying scene could save the end result.
4/10 Rooms in the Psych Ward