‘Willow Creek’ Blu-Ray Review
Existing Soon on Blu-Ray and DVD September 9th.
When I first heard that Bobcat Goldthwait–director of such terrific low-budget black comedies as “God Bless America” and “World’s Greatest Dad”–was making a found footage Bigfoot film, I was definitely intrigued. Sure, the found footage genre has grown more and more stale with each attempt the studios make to cash in on the success of such rare hits as “Paranormal Activity” or “The Blair Witch Project” (more on this later), but with Goldthwait at the helm and Bigfoot as his subject matter, something told me this was one to keep an eye on.
Here’s the official synopsis for “Willow Creek” from Dark Sky Films:
[box_light]Looking to make a splash with his research videos into the existence of Bigfoot, Jim (Bryce Johnson, “Pretty Little Liars”) and his skeptical girlfriend Kelly (Alexie Gilmore, “Labor Day,” “God Bless America”) take a camping trip to the mountains surrounding Willow Creek, California, a small town where famous footage of the legendary Sasquatch was filmed decades earlier. Jim believes Bigfoot exists and is intent of finding the very spot where the huge, hairy, man-like creature supposedly strode.
But before long, Jim and Kelly are lost in the woods and discover that someone — or something — is stalking them. With each passing night bringing unknowable danger, the two must use all of their cunning to try to make it out of the forest alive.[/box_light]
I want to keep this review spoiler-free, so I will try not to go into too much detail. I didn’t know much going in, so I really didn’t have any lofty expectations, which was the perfect way to go into this movie. In the end, I really enjoyed it. It’s a little on the short side and has a much longer buildup than I would have preferred, but I don’t think any of that really hinders it at all. It’s not perfect, but I still think it’s a pretty solid movie.
One of the things that I liked most about the film was that everything was played so realistically. Nothing is too far over the top. Several interviews with actual residents of Willow Creek, some telling their own tales of Bigfoot encounters, go a long way towards lending the film a level of authenticity. A couple of them are a bit redundant or completely unnecessary, like the first one with the woman from the Visitor Center. On the flip side of that, the interview with the guy who runs the Bigfoot Bookstore was simply perfection (I had to check with the director’s commentary to confirm that he was in fact a real guy and not an actor).
This film treats the Bigfoot mythology and those that do believe with the utmost respect. In the audio commentary, Goldthwait talked about his original concept for the film–which would have been a Christopher Guest-type movie that took place at a Bigfoot convention (which I totally would have watched as well)–but this idea changed significantly after he actually visited the real town of Willow Creek and decided not to poke fun of the believers (a group that he considers himself to be a part of). The result is a film that I think many Bigfoot enthusiasts would embrace.
Without a doubt, the best scene in the film is an extended sequence with just the two main characters in a tent at night. It runs something like 17 minutes with very little dialogue. I won’t give away anything, so I’ll just say that it’s pretty intense, thanks in no small part to some simple, yet effective sound work (mostly recorded live) and some terrific acting, especially on the part of Alexie Gilmore.
At the beginning of this review, I mentioned “The Blair Witch Project.” This movie reminded me of that movie quite a bit (Goldthwait jokingly referred to his film as “The Blair ‘Squatch Project” during shooting). Interestingly enough, Blair Witch co-director Eduardo Sánchez‘s next film is a found footage Bigfoot horror flick called “Exists.” Based on the trailer for “Exists,” though, it seems the two films couldn’t be more different. Truth be told, I’ll still probably check that one out.
I’m a really big fan of Bigfoot as a concept, but there are so few good (or even watchable) Bigfoot movies out there. That is why I was so glad to see that this film was so earnest and respectful in it’s approach. If you’re a Bigfoot fan, I think it’s a pretty good bet that you will dig this movie.
Special features on the Blu-Ray and DVD include:
- Commentary with Writer/Director Bobcat Goldthwait and Stars Alexie Gilmore and Bryce Johnson
- Deleted Scenes
- Bryce Johnson’s “The Making of Willow Creek”
Special Features: 5/10
Bottom Line: Bigfoot is awesome and “Willow Creek” is a really solid low-budget horror/suspense movie. There’s not much in the way of Special Features on the Blu-Ray/DVD, aside from an understandably deleted scene and a short, somewhat humorous featurette showing the crew and director trying to lay out some Bigfoot tracks. The commentary track is by far the best extra, as it enlightened me on some of the things I missed the first time through or things that I never would have noticed otherwise.
“Willow Creek” is available on Blu-Ray, DVD and On Demand on September 9th, 2014.
Are you a Bigfoot fan? Do you believe? Does this film sound interesting to you? Sound off in the comments below.-By Jeff Grantz