Sunday, June 8, 2014

WILLOW CREEK (2013)

",,,at the end a fat chick is bigfoot and you don't get your money back" is a real expert review from Amazon!  It's also not accurate, so keep cool. 


WILLOW CREEK will engender a divided reaction, as found-footage things often do.  I am not the worst boyfriend ever because Jim is.  He's got a birthday looming, so he celebrates by dragging his girlfriend Kelly to the site of the Patterson-Gimlin sasquatch film.  He decides to turn this bday/bigfoot outing into a film and hauls along a video camera, which gives us our found-footage vehicle.


Bobcat Goldthwait's (greatest) film proceeds very much along BLAIR WITCH lines.  The traveling couple interview and mock assorted colorful residents of Willow Creek about their bigfoot-centered economy and arts scene.  Shots are fucked up and re-enacted to give WILLOW CREEK the veneer of verisimilitude.  


As with PARANORMAL ACTIVITY and BLAIR WITCH, WILLOW CREEK was going to succeed or fail largely on the strength or weakness of its central characters.  And, generally, I'd give this film passing marks.  Jim & Kelly react with realistic amusement to oddities, like a giant goofy Bigfoot statue at the town visitor's center...


Or a dude who fancies himself the Bob Dylan of Bigfoot songs...


But they stay likable enough that, when it comes time for threats and menace to be unchained, we viewers are concerned with their safety.  


The film's strongest scene is a lengthy stretch inside a tent.  We get a marathon of acting, with Alexie Gilmore and Bryce Johnson giving us a tour of their characters' emotional landscapes, from romantical talking to hidden disappointment to alarmed reactions at nature's noises.


As you might expect, much of the film's scares are decidedly of the loud-noises type.  It would be funny as hell if it ended up being Michael Winslow, but (spoiler) it doesn't.  And the resolution of WILLOW CREEK is likely to be its most divisive element.  Reminder: good found-footage movies are mostly built on the escalation of tension, like roller coasters.  So don't go into this expecting to see tons of monsters jumping all around the woods all the time and you're far less likely to be disappointed.  Personally, I liked the ending just fine.  It dovetails well with the hazy, cryptic nature of the Bigfoot thing.  


Elite-level god-tier for Bigfoot movies—it's not better than LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK, but it beats almost everything else—and probably 75th percentile for found-footage movies.  Yeah, the seeming flood of critical praise is a little weird, but most of that is probably due to things like Rotten Tomatoes's pass/fail structure.  And the start of the hate backlash is also a little overwrought.  This is a fine, fun movie.   


***1/4

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