TADFF Movie Review: Willow Creek (2013)
I have just about had it to here (hand raised to just below my nose) with found footage films. The genre that was brought back into the mainstream thanks to the successes of The Blair Witch Project and the Paranormal Activity franchise is an easy way for anyone with a video camera to put together something that resembles a film. At least (for now) no found footage films have been presented with the new D-Box technology.
The low production costs and potential high returns if you are lucky enough to get a wide release will ensure that found footage films continue to be part of the Hollywood distribution machine which means we can expect a lot more Apollo 18 and Area 51’s eating into the small amount of time we have left on this earth.
Our latest screened found footage film is Willow Creek, directed by Bobcat Goldthwait (God Bless America, World’s Greatest Dad) which was showcased at this year’s Toronto After Dark Film Festival.
Willow creek stars Bryce Johnson and Alexie Gilmore and Jim and Kelly, boyfriend and girlfriend that are obsessed with the legend of Bigfoot. Fanatical about the idea of Sasquatch actually being real, the two travel to Willow Creek (also known as Sasquatch country) in an attempt to retrace the steps of Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin who captured the famous Bigfoot on film long before most of you were born.
Much like the footprint (get it?) of The Blair Witch Project, Willow Creek gives us a little history lesson of Sasquatch country including a trip to Bigfoot Museum and even Bigfoot Burger. Sasquatch is probably calling his agent as I type. Locals in the area warn the couple that their expedition is ill-advised but in typical horror film fashion, the couple ignore the warnings and, of course, eventually get lost in the woods.
Their experience in their tent at night provides for some of the film’s more tense moments and the shaky camera skills accustomed to the genre do assist in projecting the chaos that is unfolding. Anyone that has ever gone camping in the woods knows that a night in the forest will provide ample interesting sounds including wind through trees, branches snapping and the sound of animals rustling in their habitat. Goldthwait is well aware of such easy frights and he uses the environment around his two leads to his best advantage.
Like any successful horror film, the director must get us to care about the lead actors and Bobcat has done this expertly in the casting of Johnson and Gilmore. The first quarter of the movie has audiences getting to know the two leads and they are charming, funny and believable as two souls that are looking for an adventure. So likeable are they in fact that you really don’t want anything bad to happen to them. Too bad.
Plenty of screams were heard during the screening of the film at the Scotiabank Theatre in downtown Toronto and although we are still very much against the exploitation of found footage type films, we are glad to report that every once and a while, a good one comes around. And Willow Creek is a good one.