Directed By: Bobcat Goldthwait
Starring: Alexie Gilmore, Bryce Johnson, Laura Montagna
Tag line: "EXISTING SOON"
Trivia: This movie premiered at the 2013 Independent Film Festival of Boston
Like most people, I first became aware of Bobcat Goldthwait in 1985, when he played the gang leader Zed in Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment (which, by the way, was the last Police Academy movie I enjoyed). With his bizarre mannerisms and exaggerated voice, he went on to appear in such ‘80s comedies as One Crazy Summer and Scrooged. Nowadays, he’s a writer / director, and while I have yet to check out 2009’s World’s Greatest Dad (starring the late great Robin Williams), I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to see Willow Creek, Goldthwaith's 2013 found footage-style horror film about a couple searching for the elusive Bigfoot monster.
Ever since he was a kid, Jim (Bryce Johnson) has dreamed of visiting the spot where, in 1967, Roger Patterson and Bob Gilman captured footage of what they claimed was an honest-to-goodness Sasquatch. Convinced he, too, will encounter Bigfoot, Jim and his longtime girlfriend Kelly (Alexie Gilmore) travel to the Six Rivers National Forest, where Jim hopes to uncover even more evidence that Bigfoot is, in fact, very real. Ignoring the locals, who tell them to go home, Jim and Kelly head into the woods, completely unaware of the terror that awaits them.
Willow Creek does feature a handful of tense sequences, the best being a 20+ minute uninterrupted scene in which Jim and Kelly, while sleeping in their tent, hear strange noises coming from all around them. Moments like this aside, the movie doesn’t break any new ground, adhering closely to the standards established in 1999’s The Blair Witch Project (getting lost in the woods, laughing off the warnings of the locals, etc.).
What makes Willow Creek work, though, are the central characters, well portrayed by Johnson and Gilmore, and the time we spend getting to know them prior to their sojourn into the woods. Whether hanging out at a Bigfoot-themed restaurant or making fun of a local Sasquatch mural, Jim and Kelly come across as 100% genuine, and because we grow to like them, the horror that befalls the two later in the film seems more terrifying than usual.