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John’s Horror Corner: Willow Creek (2013), a cleverly made bigfoot monster movie that revitalizes found footage and reminds us that characters are far more important than creatures.

January 23, 2016

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MY CALL:
This bigfoot movie is not an example of “amazing” filmmaking, but it’s a cleverly made monster movie that revitalizes found footage and reminds us that characters are far more important than creatures. Probably the best bigfoot movie since Harry and the Hendersons (1987), and easily bigfoot’s most successful foray in horror.
MORE MOVIES LIKE Willow Creek:
Afflicted (2013) and Cloverfield (2008) provide excellent examples of creating great characters. I’d also consider The Blair Witch Project (1999).
HOW YOU CAN WATCH IT:  I saw this on my Shudder Subscription via Amazon Prime Video (click here to go to the movie’s page).

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If you were to only glean the first five minutes of this film, you’d likely label it as just another tired found footage horror flick not worth your time. I consider myself to be a very open-minded critic and film fan, yet even I was thinking to myself “why am watching this…this couldn’t possibly turn out to be decent…what on earth makes this interesting enough to include in Five 21st Century Creature Features You Might Have Missed?”

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But after about 10-15 minutes I realized that, not only do I not hate our main characters, but I might even like them a little…more their dynamic than the individuals themselves…okay, as the story progressed I liked this couple more and more. Jim (Bryce Johnson; The Skulls III) and Kelly (Alexie Gilmore) are a couple; one a bigfoot believer, the other a pragmatic and skeptical doubter. But we can see that Kelly has embraced Jim’s silly mania because she’s embarking on this Bigfoot Adventure vacation to visit famous sighting localities and interview locals for Jim’s documentary. This might just be their first trip together as a couple, and we get see them grow.

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By the time I was halfway through the film I had to remind myself that this was, indeed, a “horror” film because, thus far, I had encountered nothing of the sort. But I didn’t mind. I may not think this film is “amazing” but I was caught up in enjoying watching this couple interview, banter and film their way through Bigfoot Burgers, local believers and witness testimonials on their quirky little vacation.

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I’m actually reminded of the opening sequences of Cloverfield (2008) and Afflicted (2013). Now, these two films did a far superior job of this, but the similarity is that all these films had the ability to make me forget I was watching horror or sci-fi monster movies as I was content to just watch and see what was happening in these characters’ lives.

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Writer/director Bobcat Goldthwait takes heavily replayed horror concepts–like getting lost in the woods (Evil Dead, The Cabin in the Woods) and found footage documentaries-gone-wrong (The Last Exorcism, Grave Encounters)–and presents them with a less familiar spin. He doesn’t waste his time doing what every other filmmaker does. There’s not a single cheap loud noise jump scare, the movie doesn’t open with some brutal or provocative clip (to be revisited/realized at the end of the movie), and the film isn’t prefaced by some harrowing caption on a black screen. There are no gimmicks here, just two likeable characters and the story their journey has to tell…and that story gets pretty interesting in the second half of the movie.

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The final act addresses the question: “So if you actually find bigfoot, what are you going to do?” In this case, it seems that bigfoot was looking for them. Long and generally quiet scenes are sporadically populated with sasquatch vocalizations, stick knocking and leaf-and-twig-rustling footfalls in the middle of the night. And they’re getting more frequent, louder and CLOSER.

Willow Creek movie

This bigfoot movie is not an example “amazing” filmmaking, but it’s a cleverly made monster movie that revitalizes found footage and reminds us that characters are far more important than creatures. It’s probably the best bigfoot movie since Harry and the Hendersons (1987), and easily bigfoot’s most successful foray in horror. I’d strongly recommend this movie for a couples date night because there is zero gore, it’s more spooky than scary but generally it’s more on the fun side, and the couple’s banter is delightful.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 28, 2016 2:43 pm

    I found it to be refreshingly interesting. It’s a film that’s not aimed at stupid people for once. Pay attention, some of the location are truly fascinating. Slice of Americana cheese when traveling that region. Beware the spicy bits!

Trackbacks

  1. John’s Horror Corner INDEX: a list of all my horror reviews by movie release date | Movies, Films & Flix
  2. The MFF Podcast #47: Let’s Grab a Beer and Hunt Some Trolls and Bigfoot | Movies, Films & Flix
  3. John’s Horror Corner: Exists (2014), found footage bigfoot folklore horror from the director of The Blair Witch Project (1999). | Movies, Films & Flix

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