“A downright scary ride that’s also a ton of fun… careens from the funny to the painful and then back to funny before pouring on the scares and weirdness” – Don R. Lewis, FILM THREAT
Handsome young city lad Jim is a true believer — he’s convinced of the existence of the sasquatch, the elusive shambling man-beast nicknamed Bigfoot, said to haunt the wilds of the American West Coast. Jim’s girlfriend Kelly isn’t so sure. But she loves Jim and hey, joining him on his silly quest to craft a homemade documentary while seeking out the notorious creature, well, there could be worst ways to spend her downtime between bit-part acting gigs. The couple drives out to Trinity County, CA, on a pilgrimage to the site where the famous Patterson-Gimlin film clip, which purported to capture the mysterious monster in motion, was shot in 1967. Rolling into Willow Creek, they find a wonderland of Bigfoot-themed gimmickry and tourist traps, and chat with assorted locals. Some of the townsfolk are happy to share, while others are apprehensive. Their warnings become increasingly aggressive. The deep woods are no place for a couple of naïve city slickers — as Jim and Kelly are soon to find out!
Since his first claim to fame as the ridiculous Zed in the POLICE ACADEMY movies of the ’80s, stand-up comic/actor/screenwriter/director Bobcat Goldthwait has proven his ability to entertain — and upend expectations — both before and behind the camera. Detouring from his dark, biting comedy films (SHAKES THE CLOWN, WORLD’S GREATEST DAD, GOD BLESS AMERICA) and high-profile TV direction gigs, Goldthwait takes a shot at the Blair Witch School of found-footage horror flicks with WILLOW CREEK. He not only makes the scary bits work — the second act’s centerpiece, a 20-minute static shot inside the couple’s tent, is an excruciatingly effective episode of fear and suspense — but amps up the empathy and laughs with his believable leads and very real chats with true-life sasquatch obsessives (making WILLOW CREEK effectively a hybrid mock/doc). A subtle examination of faith and belief, a charming expose of cryptozoological kitsch, and a surprisingly gripping creature-feature creep-out (Goldthwait makes brilliant use of the less-is-more principle too often overlooked in the horror genre), WILLOW CREEK sets out to achieve some very clear goals and, well, let’s just say Goldthwait has more luck than his hapless protagonists!
— Rupert Bottenberg