In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_american_sniper

American Sniper

American Sniper proves the dictum “never count an auteur out” by proving itself as Eastwood’s strongest directorial effort since 2009's underrated Invictus pretty much right…

Thumb_large_20ut2u5dmgl6szdu0adaq8u5zoc

The Interview

Opportunities at rich satire flatten out into Hangover dude-dope-doodoo jokes, where the premise is that there’s nothing funnier than watching over-privileged grown men act out…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Channel Archives

Reviews

Willow Creek

Willow Creek Movie Review
  |  

Writer/director Bobcat Goldthwait went camping and took two genres that should be at the end of their creative ropes—the found-footage movie and the monster-in-the-woods movie—with him in his latest genre oddity, "Willow Creek," now playing On Demand and in select theaters. He came back with something unexpected: a slow-burn horror flick that totally works on its own modest terms, offering an example of how well Goldthwait understands the importance of sound design and forced perspective while also offering a neat bit of gender politics and even commentary on the way we often seek that which we know we should not find. Young filmmaker Jim (Bryce Johnson) and his girlfriend Kelly (Alexie Gilmore) set out to find Bigfoot, not really pausing long enough to think about what might happen if they find him.

The title refers to the infamous source of the Bigfoot legend, an entire community built up around the reports of giant, hairy creatures that roam the nearby woods and what it’s done to the tourist industry. Giant statues of the big fella, murals, stories of missing campers, songs crafted about him, etc.—Willow Creek rests on a bedrock of folklore. And not everyone seems to be happy that Jim and Kelly are here to document it. They get plenty of "this might not be a good idea" warnings, most of them echoed by Kelly herself, a woman who seems to be a passenger on a trip built as much around her boyfriend’s ego as anything. Goldthwait cleverly includes multiple takes of Jim’s little speeches and introductions to interviews. This isn’t a guy who just wants to get Bigfoot; he wants to be a star too.

"Willow Creek" is a defiant slow burn. Jim and Kelly tour the community, talk to locals, and continuously prepare viewers for the inevitable. As he’s proven in films like "World’s Greatest Dad" and "God Bless America," Goldthwait is a smart filmmaker. He knows that you know that "Willow Creek" is going to get all "Blair Witch Project" eventually and so he plays with that expectation. Lesser filmmakers would have felt the need to have a sighting, a jump scare, a shock moment earlier in the film. Not Bobcat. You’re going to hang out with Jim and Kelly (credit to Johnson and Gilmore for very believable, unforced performances) to the degree that, in one of my favorite moments when Jim proposes to Kelly, you almost forget that this is a monster movie.

And then Bobcat reminds you. The centerpiece of "Willow Creek" is an extended sequence that everyone making a found footage film should be forced to watch. And take notes. The camera doesn’t move. There are no quick cuts. There are no asides to the camera/audience to break the tension. We are merely in the tent with Jim and Kelly, watching their faces and, most of all, listening. What is scarier than an unexplainable, unidentifiable sound in the pitch-black woods, miles from civilization? "Willow Creek" makes the case that the answer is nothing.

Popular Blog Posts

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

Roger Moore's Best: "The Spy Who Loved Me"

An FFC comments on Roger Moore's best James Bond film, "The Spy Who Loved Me."

The Ten Best TV Programs of 2014

The best television programs of 2014.

Dear Angelina: Thoughts on "Cleopatra"

A letter to Angelina Jolie about the casting of her upcoming take on "Cleopatra."

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus