Follow Genre: Horror, thriller
Director: Bobcat Goldthwait
Distributor: TDM
Duration: 80 minutes

Willow Creek (DVD) – Movie Review

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Good: One brilliant scene
Bad: The rest of the movie is pretty bland and unoriginal
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One of the oldest legends in human history is about the existence of a humanoid ape, who is said to be a lot bigger and stronger as a regular human. This creature goes by many names: Yeti, Sasquatch, but most famous one is Bigfoot. There have been many expeditions in order to prove the existence of such an animal, but the most famous one would be the Patterson–Gimlin film, capturing a moving Bigfoot.

willow-creek-bannerIn Willow Creek, we follow around Jim (Bryce Johnson), who is a hardcore believer of the Bigfoot story and thinks that the earlier mentioned tape proves its existence. He’s planning to make his own documentary to show the world that Bigfoot is real and travels to the location where Patterson and Gimlin shot their footage, namely a place called Willow Creek. Accompanying him on his trip is his girlfriend Kelly (Alexie Gilmore). She doesn’t believe in Bigfoot, stating multiple times that he is as likely to exists as leprechauns, which creates some tension between the two love birds. She does love him however, thus she’s supporting him in this endeavor.

As they are arrive in the town of Willow Creek, which happens to be the Bigfoot capital of the world, they start interviewing some locals. Some believe in the myth, others are more skeptic. Some point out the dangers of going into the woods, which are happily ignored by Jim. He’s dead set in going into the forest in order to find the original filming location. However, once they start exploring the dense forest of Six Rivers National Forest, they find out the warnings might have been truthful after all.

willow-creek-1Willow Creek is a found footage film directed by Bobcat Goldthwait, who originally rose to fame by playing the weird voiced Zed in the Police Academy franchise. While the basic premise is awfully familiar to The Blairwitch Project – people get lost/in trouble in a forest and are haunted by something unknown – Goldthwait manages to put his own twist to the by now well-known formula. In the film’s best scene, which is a continuous shot of around 19 minutes, he drives the scare level to great heights and does it in a wonderful way. The downside is, that besides those brilliant 19 minutes, the film doesn’t do a whole lot to make you actually care for the couple in distress.

A lot of this is due to the actors. Instead of being the charming rouge that Goldthwait probably envisioned, Jim comes across as an annoying man-child, making his fixation on Bigfoot feel like a problem with growing up, instead of a worthy quest. Bryce Johnson also has a problem looking scared, as there’s always this permanent grin stuck on his face, making the scary scenes a whole lot less scary. Kelly, who’s the voice of reason in the beginning, transform to a helpless woman who’s only job is to look terrified and to scream. Which, to be honest, Alexie Gilmore is pretty good at. It just makes it difficult to actually care for the two leads, when they are such simple caricatures. The other effect that these card box personae create is that the first half of the film is in essence useless. It’s clearly the goal to make you care about Jim and Kelly and this is done by showing how “human” they are. The movie uses about 3/4th of its runtime to establish this, making it all the worse when it utterly fails at it.

willow-creek-2For a film with a reasonably short runtime (around 80 minutes), there aren’t a lot of scare moments. As said before, there’s a good 19 minutes of excellent scariness, but that’s about it, so if you are looking for a movie with a good time/scream ratio, this isn’t the one. Willow Creek takes its time to build up the (non-existent) story, to motivate the (non-existing) personalities and forgets to be actually entertaining.

One thing Goldthwait does correctly is knowing what not to show. In a lot of horror movies, the tension disappears as soon as we get our first good look at the paranormal subject that is causing the trouble. Goldthwait addresses this problem by limiting in the on screen presence of the ghoul to mostly sounds and fast cuts. This keeps us wondering just what exactly is hunting down our lovely couple and is the only reason this movie is worth a watch.


Willow Creek is a pretty by the books found footage horror movie, whose only call to fame is one good scene. The rest of the film is pretty bland and boring, which sadly lowers the one good scene it has. Having to sit through bad conversations and predictable set-ups makes you feel fed up by the time the movie starts to get into the groove and lowers the quality of the film.


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