HIDDEN HORROR – Willow Creek

Although Cannibal Holocaust is considered the first found footage film, The Blair Witch Project became the quintessential film of the subgenre, coining the now popular term and creating a new wave of films capturing the things that go bump-in-the-night via amateur video.

Although some now consider this a tired genre or gimmick, horror fans are blessed with a brilliant “found document” every so often, from the 1992 Belgian masterpiece (and first real found-footage film) Man Bites Dog, to Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, to Paranormal Activity, to the V/H/S series.

There have also been a series of misfires as well, but the latest lost tape to get it right is 1980s funny-man turned writer/director Bobcat Goldthwait’s Willow Creek, in which the hunt for Bigfoot becomes grounds for the documented expedition.

In the tradition of Blair Witch, our documentary filmmaking couple, Jim the enthusiast and Kelly the skeptic, venture out to Willow Creek in search of the elusive Sasquatch. Interviewing simpleton locals in Willow Creek, the Bigfoot capital of the world, before embarking into Bluff Creek in search of the famous 1967 Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin film site (where the two men caught the first moving picture of Bigfoot), Jim and Kelly encounter more than they bargained for.

Again, like The Blair Witch Project, all of the terrifying events take place off camera, from strange vocalizations in the middle of the night to a sabotaged campsite when returning from a shoot.

Jim does not become too demoralized from the unsettling actions taking place during his Bigfoot production, while his girlfriend Kelly does.

The acting is beyond the sub-par expectations of the genre, where the couple (portrayed by Alexie Gilmore and Bryce Johnson) carry numerous scenes in one long drawn-out shot. This is something current horror films do not accomplish, because in this MTV-age of short attention-spans, films are assembled with quick shots, while casting is based on beauty, not talent.

Now that’s the wonderful thing about indie films: they may not get the attention they deserve, but they’re made with pure conviction.

Goldthwait did the festival run with this film, and it did not get a wide release, but the film has developed quite the cult following the past year, thanks to word of mouth.

Although we can all quickly dismiss the great American Bigfoot as a hoax, like South America’s Chupacabra or Sasquatch’s distant cousin, the Yeti, in the Himalayas, one thing for sure is that Willow Creek brings a tone of realism to the table, both from the found footage subjective camera work, and brilliant acting that makes this one stand apart.

– Matthew McPhee

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3 thoughts on “HIDDEN HORROR – Willow Creek

  1. Found footage seems to polarize horror fans. Some like it and some don’t. Now for me I think there is plenty of potential there because it gives the audience a feeling of being involved somehow. I remember Blair Witch Project coming out and thinking it was amazingly scary even if in hindsight very little happens for much of the time. I thought the first Paranormal Activity movie was a masterpiece but then it was reworked to death. Thats the problem in that Hollywood sees them as a quick way to make a lot of money so they seem to just throw anything out there. I haven’t seen this one yet but I am intrigued. I have to say that poster is awesome.

    • Blair Witch was an innovative film from its early conception. From the set-up of the lore with a faux website, about three years before the film’s release, to the final product. Paranormal Activity did a great job with a minuscule budget. Both films made plenty (an understatement) of money and began a franchise.

      And like you said, there is potential there. I’m looking forward to future found footage flicks.Because, although there are plenty of bad ff films, the good ones clearly overshadow the former.

      If you haven’t seen the following, I strongly recommend
      Grave Encounters – A comedic take on those ghost hunter shows. The sequel is a little lighter, but still a fun watch.
      V/H/S – An anthology series, where the sequel is on par with the original.
      Man Bites Dog – Extremely dark comedy about a film crew following a charismatic serial killer.
      Behind the Mask – This one is a deconstruction of the slasher genre. It’s just as funny as it is disturbing.

  2. Pingback: REVIEW: Apollo 18 | The Order of Trinity

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