Willow Creek is the 2013 horror flick by Bobcat Goldthwait, who by the way, I adore. It follows Jim, who is “obsessed” with Bigfoot, and his girlfriend Kelly as they decide to make their own Bigfoot documentary. They go to the famous Willow Creek hunting down rumors that the right location is outside the town.
Now without setting myself up as a crazy Bigfoot believer, I had a bit of a problem with the way the movie is presented. Jim is supposed to be obsessed with the legend but fails in living up to the lingo and understanding of those that like cryptozoology. This movie was never going to appeal to actual believers, but if you are someone who is someone interested in the subject of cryptozoology even without believing, you will still be disappointed.
It’s not a deal breaker, but it is an annoyance. Jim basically seems to have read the Wikipedia page on Bigfoot and off we go.
But the movie can still make up for that by being a good movie that offers good scares. The problem is I am not sure that the movie lands on either front. As far as being a good movie? It’s a miss for me. A lot of the lead up to their search is lackluster, and many of the characters are iffy. It pokes fun at the concept of Bigfoot hunters which would be fine, if not for the fact that we are supposed to believe that Jim is one. Had the movie been formatted as two nonbelievers that just happen to go on this journey it almost would have landed better for me. Also, the main characters while not worthy of scorn aren’t worth being invested in either. I found myself lacking in attachment to their potential horror.
Horror movies either need to make me really care about the people I am about to watch get killed or provide something else (gory deaths). The movie is not made for over the top gore, so the lack of emotional attachment to the characters left me wanting.
Now by all accounts, this was Bobcat’s first foray into horror, and he has more than proven himself as a director, however, this movie felt… flat. It fell into the trap that I have discussed before, a movie entirely dependent on its climax. There is no tension or suspense building up to the last roughly 30 minutes of the film. So those 30 minutes need to be perfect, and they just weren’t. A lot of it felt like a lesser version of The Blair Witch Project with very similar plot devices just in a rushed format.
Yet, this movie shouldn’t be discounted entirely. There are about 15 minutes with the couple sitting in the tent simply hearing what is happening, and it is super effective. A lot of people trash that extended scene, but I think it’s the best damn part of the movie. The sound design is excellent, it’s not overacted, it’s intense, it’s uncomfortable, it’s what a horror movie should be. I loathed sitting through that scene and yet I was compelled to watch, and that is what I like about good horror.
After that, the movie takes a bit of a turn. It is not so much worse that it’s bad, but it never manages to recapture those moments. There are a few scares at the end, but the tension is never rebuilt to such a sufficient amount.
So bottom line? Watch it, but I think the movie is a bit overhyped. Bobcat has had better movies, and I hope he will tackle horror again. In the meantime, it’s not a bad movie, but it’s not a great one either. It has a few moments and is worth the watch for genre fans, but it’s nothing to write home about. There are promising moments, which is why I believe Bobcat could deliver a fantastic horror film, but for now, it’s good… I just wanted more.