Director: Bobcat Goldthwait (2013)
Starring: Bryce Johnson, Alexie Gilmore
Find it: IMDB
Searching for Bigfoot, an amateur documentary maker and his girlfriend travel to Sasquatch territory, hoping to find evidence of his existence. What they find instead is a host of kooky locals, a tasty-looking burger and all-too-real terror in the woods. It's The Blair Witch Project, but with Bigfoot. Maybe.
While not being massively aware of Bobcat Goldthwait beyond Police Academy (I'm probably too English), I had enjoyed his flawed but entertaining serial killer satire God Bless America. He returns as director with Willow Creek, a found footage style horror film, played straight, for the most part. Buzz for the film had been good, leading me to expect something along the lines of Troll Hunter or VHS: that is, found footage that doesn't make me want to poke my own eyes out with Bigfoot-trodden branches. Alas, I found myself disappointed yet again.
Once more, we're left with a horror film which takes forever to get going and then spends the rest of its time either running around in the pitch darkness or cowering in a tent. Then there's a burst of action five minutes before the 'surprise' ending and why the fuck are they still filming this. It's virtually identical to The Lost Coast Tapes (not that I remember The Lost Coast Tapes) but will do much better thanks to its bigger-name director and nifty camerawork (one lingering static shot is particularly effective). While not bad, Willow Creek resembles at least fifteen other horror films I've seen in the last five years - almost as though Goldthwait wrote the script on tracing paper.
Reading reviews after having watched it, I gradually began to feel out-of-touch, cynical and like I was missing out on something. I feel like I watched a different film to those who raved about Willow Creek, saying things like "move over Godzilla" or "proves that there's life in found footage horror yet". Its climactic scene in the tent is very good and Alexie Gilmore has a wonderfully expressive face for horror films, but I saw nothing else that set Willow Creek apart from the rest. The song which plays over the end credits is the best thing about it.
Willow Creek is a disappointing misstep in an interesting and original directorial career from one of indie cinema's more exciting voices. Thankfully, enough people think that this film is groundbreaking, scary and good that Goldthwait should emerge from it completely unscathed.