Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer
This October I decided to watch and review some of those great horror movies (31 to be exact) that I missed on their initial release. And for Part 7 of my series of the 31 OF THE BEST HORROR MOVIES YOU (MAY HAVE) MISSED we will be checking out Bigfoot found footage flick Willow Creek. Let’s get to it:
Day 7 of 31: Willow Creek (2013)
Director: Bobcat Goldthwait
Starring: Alexie Gilmore, Bryce Johnson, Peter Jason
IMDb Trivia: Bobcat Goldthwait did all the throaty noises for Bigfoot.
Plot: A man and his girlfriend camp in the woods to capture firsthand evidence of Bigfoot.
Review: So a bit of backstory on why I chose to recommend this movie. While reviewing the past ten years of horror movies I missed out on I found a bunch of different lists with different recommendations. Most of the movies I had already seen but a few of them stood out, not only as horror films I missed but they were recommended over and over again as “must-see”. Willow Creek was one of those movies. And while I’m not a fan of Bigfoot films in general as I find them to be either totally ridiculous or totally boring, I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the idea of a horror movie directed by none other than Bobcat Goldthwait (Police Academy franchise, Disney’s Hercules). I know him as a straight-up goofy comedian but Goldthwait has been a director (mostly television) and writer for some time now. So I gave in and decided to check out his found footage-styled take on Sasquatch. And while I wouldn’t say this movie is great, it turned out a lot better than I expected.
Now if you’re looking for a Bigfoot movie that’s fast-paced with slasher vibes you should check out Abominable. Willow Creek is much slower and uses the found footage style of a couple who decide to head up to the same National Forest where Bigfoot was allegedly caught on film years ago. The footage they’re referring to is the one where Bigfoot is allegedly seen walking near a river bank or lake, and even if you didn’t know it was called the Patterson-Gimlin film and you’ve probably come across it. Anyways, we join Jim (Bryce Johnson), a stout believer, and his Doubting Thomas girlfriend Kelly (Alexie Gilmore) as they travel and film their journey to Willow Creek, the Bigfoot capital of the world.
These are the parts of the movie that may feel like a drag to some viewers, but I thought it was well-utilised to establish who these people were beyond the surface level stuff. Jim seems like a nice enough guy but through his conversations with Julie and his interviews you can tell this is a man who wants to find proof of Bigfoot more for fame than anything else. Julie is the voice of reason but like a lot of girlfriends out there she wants to be supportive, even if she thinks they should turn around and go home. This kind of build-up is slow but it goes a long way in making these people more than just characters in a horror movie, which I always appreciate. The cinematography is also beautiful and the movie is very well-shot (which is not something I can usually say about smaller-budgeted found footage films). Goldthwait could definitely give a lesson or two on how to shoot movies in this style without giving your audience a headache.
Thankfully, the slow burn falls away and the tension ratchets up to a thousand once they spend their first night in the forest alone. You know how some movies have a moment or a scene that completely changes your mind about it? Where you would’ve probably written it off as forgettable you find yourself instead sucked in by this moment and it absolutely saves the film for you? This was that moment, folks! I love the outdoors but camping at night will make your imagination run wild, and in this couple’s case the sounds you can hear outside their tent are nothing less than terrifying. Goldthwait does an amazing job of amping up the tension and fully immersing you into this moment as if you’re in that tent yourself. The camera never leaves their faces and I found myself just like these two—trying to sit still and figure out just what the hell was outside that tent?! Sometimes what you don’t see is so much more terrifying than what you do, and considering how comical Bigfoot can look in movies, I think it was a brilliant choice to play out the final act this way.
So would I call this one of the best horror movies out there? Not really, but I do think it’s one of the best Bigfoot horror movies I’ve ever seen. With a fantastic sound design utilised in a genius way, clever use of the camera, some beautiful cinematography of the outdoors and a couple of actors who smartly play their roles straight, Willow Creek may not be for everyone, but it’s most definitely worth a monster lover’s viewing time this and any other Halloween season.
Sommer’s Score: 6.5 out of 10
You can check out Part 6 of my 31 Days List The Wailing below along with found footage horror film Behind the Sightings:
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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