Willow Creek (2013, Bobcat Goldthwait)
Bigfoot, Faux-Documentary, Found Footage, etc.
Movie Watched: 10
Appropriate Grossness: 8
So, I totally liked this movie - kind of a lot. I REALLY didn’t expect to. We watched this on a bit of a revamped mini-Scary Movie Club meet up, with a new friends and coworker Ann. I’d almost forgotten about the entirely different experience of watching a movie in a group vs. alone. I should begin to delineate that in my reviews. Anyway. Guy who’s obsessed with Bigfoot goes out to the Willow Creek, California, to try and find the site of the site of that Bigfoot video - you know the one, where he lopes by and turns to look at the camera - with his girlfriend, who’s reluctant about all of the goofiness of their trip. This movie does a lot of things really well: for instance, they interview people who have supposedly seen Bigfoot, and they’re all real interviewees - they’re people who HAVE seen Bigfoot. They’re not just actors. Great touch, seems super realistic. The movie seems kind of goofy and not that scary, and there’s way too much time spent pre-camping in the woods, but once they’re finally camping, it’s all worth it. The movie really culminates in a pretty terrifying 20ish minute, single shot scene of the couple in the tent. Total recommendation!
BONUS REVIEW FROM ANN!
Fresh take on the Blair Witch idea, with Sasquatch starring as the sought-after local legend. Better, IMO, than Blair Witch, in part because I experienced less jump-exhaustion. Using the Carlough Scale (without numbers; I find quantification really hard):
Acting - Respectable, fairly believable. Nice touch using actual people as documentary interviewees to lend a sense of reality and something for actors to play against. Main characters seemed believable and evoked what they were intended to evoke from me as a viewer.
Anxiety - I felt fairly anxious, and that creeped up and intensified probably along the exact trajectory anticipated by the writers. See Unpredictable, below.
Atmosphere - The film made good use of nice, bright sunny days and dark spooky nighttime. Kind of a good thing that at some point bright sunny day stops seeming like the safe harbor you want it to be.
Movie Watched - Yep, all the way through. Wished it were a little longer, actually.
Appropriate Grossness - Very little grossness, none of it visual.
Production - The movie is low budget but not only does it not suffer for that, it lends it authenticity. This is kind of what you'd expect from a couple people making their own documentary. Scenes were all real places, from what I could tell, so there was no shoddy backdrop to detect. And there was no fancy technical stuff in the film, so poorly done CGI, for example, was a non-factor.
Recommended - If you like high production look and feel with lots of big jump scares and well-known actors this is not the film for you. Otherwise, if you are a liker of scary movies that are a bit more subtle this could be up your alley.
Unpredictable - So, this movie isn't chock-full of unpredictable stuff. You've seen this trajectory before, you know when it's going to get scary even if you don't know exactly how that part will play out in terms of numbers or amplitude of scares. I think the predictability works in its favor, doing some of the tension-building for you. There are one or two things that you might not see coming but those things aren't part of the scare - they're peripheral to it. One of them actually adds a clever bit of distraction at a good time.
Scares - This film doesn't produce jump after jump, exhausting the viewer so that finally the movie becomes more annoying than scary. There are mostly small, well-spaced jumps, with a fairly tight cable of tension running between them. The scares are pretty solid though, unless you're sitting in a roomful of scare-mockers (that kind of co-viewer could wreck this film for you, so avoid that environment if possible).
Story - Yes. Ok? Yes, this story has been told repeatedly. It has its own minor uniquenesses but they don't serve to set it clearly apart from other films. I'm not sure the story has been told with this particular combo of factors, but it's not novel. It's enjoyable for what it is, and for what it's worth, I'm positive I'll be watching it again, and sharing it with other people. It's shaped like a classic and I like that.