Willow Creek

Wicked Wednesday: Willow Creek (2013)

Ever since watching Grave Encounters, I’ve been on a massive found-footage kick. But depending on who you ask, the genre has more titles listed as “to avoid” than supposed “must sees”. So it can be tricky figuring out what to and what not to watch.

Ever since I finished reading Max Brook’s Devolution last month, I’ve been dying to watch a good Bigfoot movie. When I spotted Willow Creek, a lesser-known movie with a fairly good reputation, I thought I had struck gold. But I think I ended up with more confusion than anything.

Willow Creek follows the found footage formula to a T: couple were making a movie (documentary…? YouTube video…?) together at Six Rivers National Forest, where the iconic Patterson–Gimlin film was made. They’re missing and seemingly all that was found was their footage.

Jim and Kelly are a likeable couple, but clearly out of their element when they arrive at the small town of Willow Creek, which is dedicated to all things Bigfoot. They interview locals. Laugh at local things like Bigfoot statues, paintings and musicians. It’s all a good time.

When they meet a local author, they’re given the directions to the location where the Patterson–Gimlin film was supposedly show. The couple head down together, but are warned away by a local. Do they listen to him? No. Did he provide any good reasoning other than being a threatening hillbilly? No.

So it’s no surprise when the couple soon find they’re being fucked with. After they go for a swim, they return to their campsite to find that their stuff has been trashed. Only not really trashed as their tent is still fine and everything.

That night, the couple begin to hear whooping and calling in the night. Kelly knows it could be anything. Jim knows it is the Bigfoot calling out to each other. Their soon ‘attacked’ in their tent, but the attacks amount to something poking at their tent.

The following day, the couple decide to pack up and get the hell out of Dodge. Though, of course, they get lost in the woods. And it’s not too long before they meet their unsurprising demise.

Willow Creek is directed by comedian Bobcat Goldthwait. Considering this isn’t his first time at the directing rodeo, you’d expect a bit more…well, just more. I’d find it more believable if you told me this was made by a 20-something who begged his friends to be in his movie and paid them in pad thai.

The plot is very run-of-the mill and surprisingly dominated by their attempts to interview locals. The movie is over halfway done when they reach the campsite. Because of this, there are very little scares to be had. I’m not sure why the movie went with the decisions it did. For one, you never see a Bigfoot (though a clump of their hair makes an appearance) and you did get a shot of a naked woman standing in the woods. Because…? Well, I’m not really sure.

I wish the movie would have made a decision: build the Bigfoot lore up to really scare us or make these big bitches really terrifying to see. If there’s a random lady in the woods, who is she? Is it meant to be implied that she’s one of the people from the missing posters? If so, why is she alive while the beasts quite clearly tore apart the couple?

Maybe I’m over-thinking a movie about cryptids. But is it really asking too much to have something that is both fun and has lore? That’s what ultimately made The Blair Witch Project so exciting. It’s nothing but shaky cameras and panicked breathing without its lore.

I wouldn’t say Willow Creek is bad. There are definitely more disappointing movies in this world. But it’s certainly something I’m going to forget I watched in about a week or two.