movie review

MOVIE REVIEW: WILLOW CREEK (2013)

WILLOW CREEK

2013, USA

Director: Bobcat Goldthwait

Starring: Alexie Gilmore, Bryce Johnson

Viewed: Streaming

Transfer Quality: Great

You can usually count on a Bigfoot movie to automatically suck. We all believed in him when we were children, but most of us outgrew it. So, once you’re and adult, any film with a Sasquatch in it looks ridiculous by default because it’s nearly impossible to take a monster that looks like Chewbacca or Andre the Giant in a gorilla suit seriously. You could put millions of dollars into making Bigfoot look awesome and the end result will always look stupid.

Still, though, each of us has a primal feeling that there is a large, subhuman thing lurking right behind us when we hike through the woods. And that’s precisely what Bobcat Goldthwait explores in Willow Creek, a heartfelt, genuine and convincing Bigfoot movie that doesn’t suck.

Goldthwait, as you may remember, is best known for his screaming, insane stand-up routine in the 80s and his onscreen roles as Shakes The Clown and Zed in Police Academy. He’s also known to be a Bigfoot believer and part of a community of enthusiasts that’s pretty much dismissed by everyone as group of crackpots, hoaxsters and who Joe Rogan might call “white dudes who can’t get laid.” I’m not sure if Bobcat is a hundred percent believer, but he sure has enough skill as a filmmaker and storyteller to sell it.

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The movie is done in the Blair Witch/ Cloverfield pioneered “found footage” format, that somehow often works and is sometimes more convincing and realistic than actual found footage. The story is simple: a couple from LA ride up into Northern California Sasquatch country just for the hell of it. The girl, Kelly (Alexie Gilmore), is a skeptic along for the ride and her dorky boyfriend Jim (Bryce Johnson) is a casual believer. They view all the touristy sites in the area and go hiking into the forest. Guess what happens? 

The first and second acts are quirky and fun, lightheartedly running through some standard horror film tropes while the couple meets offbeat townsfolk and harbingers warning them of strange and evil happenings in the forest that could either be Sasquatch or feral druggies. The third act awakens in darkness and goes into high tension and anxiety pretty quickly, carried mostly by Gilmore’s performance.

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I remember hearing a Bigfoot story when I was a kid about some lumberjacks in a log cabin that were accosted by creatures in the forest that where making whooping sounds and throwing rocks at the camp. I’m not sure where I heard it, but that story always stuck with me. I’m pretty sure Goldthwait is familiar with it, too.   (AD)

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