Tuesday, November 11, 2014
WILLOW CREEK (2014)
Written & Directed By: Bobcat Goldithwait
Cinematography By: Evan Phelan
Editor: Jason Stewart
Cast: Alexie Gilmore, Bryce Johnson, Peter Jason
Jim and his girlfriend Kelly are visiting the infamous Willow Creek, the alleged home of the original Bigfoot legend - the tale of huge ape like creatures that roam the forests of North America. It was there that in 1967, the legendary beast was captured on film and has terrified and mystified generations since. Keen to explore more than 50 years of truth, folklore, misidentifications and hoaxes, Kelly goes along for the ride to keep Jim happy, whilst he is determined to prove the story is real by capturing the beast on camera. Deep in the dark and silent woods, isolated and hours from human contact, neither Kelly or Jim are prepared for what is hidden between the trees, and what happens when the cameras start rolling...
This is actually one if the better found footage horror films. Which should come as no surprise considering it comes from Writer-director Bobcat Goldthwait whose films have all been minimalist but extraordinary as they are challenging yet all clearly show a passion and have something to say.
Strangely this film seems like his most mainstream film. It is also his first non comedy to a degree. Though it shows a versatility and willingness to experiment.
The film feels like an homage or satire on films such as Werner Herzog's GRIZZLY MAN. And even Charlene Yi's PAPER HEARTS by mixing real interviews into a narrative starring actors. It mostly appears as home movies then as the film goes along it's not so much a horror film as it begins to feel like a thriller as things stop being so basic and the suspense begins.
What I liked about the film is that it's subject is always in the background. Myth's like Bigfoot fascinate me as they are unexplained yet they have been around for so long we think of them as almost comical as we are so used to them that while mysterious they are also so familiar they don't serve a certain mystique. It's the same with yeti's the abominable snowman and the Loch-Ness monster if they exist or not they have been with us so long they are familiar. So when they are subjects of films it is more comical. Where as more the unknown like aliens can still be the cause Of nightmares. So here by treating the subject light then making it kind of a reality is fascinating and reminds that these legends and myths that we are used to can still be dangerous. Like wild animals sure we sell teddy bear that doesn't mean bears are cuddly and not ferocious in life.
The natural comparison for this film as with all found footage films will be THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT as this film also takes place in the woods and had the single camcorder as witness and as the audiences eyes.
What I have always found web it comes to found footage other then the obvious questions of why keep filming is that. Why are they being presented is this supposedly the experience or death of a person or group of people. How did whoever is presenting it get the footage and why are they presenting what amounts to a snuff film and making money off of it it they want to market it or present to as real, then why not a documentary. Rather then a nicely edited narrative feature. I understand to put you in the same circumstances as the protagonist and to present to a degree the horrors of everyday life more or less.
Here the filmmakers don't have to create a phenomenon or character and fill the audience in too much as to the folklore. It’s is more a Comedic-Dramatic Documentary until the final 20 minutes when it really becomes more of a horror thriller.
There are no answers by the end. The film leaves it up to you to decide what happened as we know one thing for sure, but still have many questions. So much so that after watching the film. I immediately watched it with the audio commentary on to try and get some answers. There are little clues throughout to support many theories.
The standout sequence is actually the third act or final 20 minutes of the film. Where they film turns into a nightmare as at first it seems simple and then it gets more and more dangerous as the suspense gets raised and scarier as things are unexplained and the genuine horror comes from not only the situations but the characters reactions to everything. The intensity rises from what seems at first nothing then goes to rising tension as something's gets not only closer but louder and let's it's presence be known.
It also makes more of an impact as we actually get to know as like these characters so any harm that might come to then is deeper get for us in the audience.
Grade: B -