Written by: Daniel Hadley
Directed by: Bobcat Goldthwait
Cast: Alexie Gilmore, Bryce Johnson, Laura Montagna
A lot of found footage films fall flat for one reason and one reason only, and its due to a simple question that I have heard asked countless times: “Why are they filming this?” Couple that with shaky camera work and erratic editing and your audience is completely withdrawn from the movie going experience. Willow Creek avoids all of these things and for the first time in a long time I can say that it actually feels like ‘found footage’.
Found footage is often times the go to style for first time filmmakers due to how quickly and cheaply they can be produced, and it’s very rare that an experienced film maker tackles the genre. Barry Levinson tried his hand at found footage with The Bay and I may be in the minority on this, but I feel Levinson produced one of the most realistic and harrowing found footage horror movies ever produced. Bobcat Goldthwait who also Gave us the excellent God Bless America (if you haven’t seen it then do it, now) follows suit. Willow Creek and The Bay couldn’t be more different in terms of story and setting but they have one thing in common, they’re both excellent examples of found footage horror.
The story is very simple, Jim is a diehard Bigfoot enthusiast and he and his girlfriend Kelly are travelling to the home of the original Bigfoot legend, determined to prove that the legend is real. Along the way they chat to some quirky locals, visit some tourist spots and just generally have fun together. It really feels like a home a movie and Jim and Kelly are so likeable and have such good chemistry that not for a second did I doubt that I was watching a home movie, everything just feels so natural and genuine.
It’s always hard to watch a character you like go through hell and it’s harder still to see them broken down, isolated and completely helpless. When all that’s separating you from an unknown hulking beast is the thin fabric wall of a tent, then the fear really has to hit home. And hit home it does as the final act of Willow Creek goes a long way to show just how screwed Jim and Kelly are.
I have seen a lot of found footage films and Willow Creek stands as one of the best, never boring, consistently funny, very well acted and above all else it’s scary.