31 Days of Horror – ‘Willow Creek’

Bobcat Goldthwait strikes gold in found footage format with one savvy move

“The Blair Witch Project” left an indelible mark on the horror genre.

That’s not a compliment.

The 1999 film introduced Hollywood to the “found-footage” gimmick, a way to tell horror stories at a dramatically reduced price point.

The technique proved a boon to indie filmmakers, years before tech advances made moviemaking less expensive. It still inspired a crush of lo-fi shockers that made us pine for tripods and dolly shots.

The genre is more or less dead today, and that’s good news. Still, the 2013 film “Willow Creek” proved how effective it could be in the right circumstances. And it took a “Police Academy” alum to prove that point.

Willow Creek Official Trailer 1 (2013) - Horror Movie HD

Comedian Bobcat Goldthwait’s film follows a couple seeking out the mysterious Bigfoot. He’s a filmmaker hoping to snag the ultimate coup — the big fella himself.

Or herself, perhaps?

She’s along for the ride, not knowing just how close they might get to the main attraction.

The dialogue, for once in a found-footage feature, doesn’t make you grind your teeth. Plus, we get to know the key players (Bryce Johnson and Alexie Gilmore make for a very believable couple). Goldthwait packs plenty of mischief along the way, examining Bigfoot culture as well as the couple in question.

The story holds together, in part, because we have a rooting interest in the main characters. That was no accident, according to the director.

That was one of the things that interested me in the movie. That you make these real people. That you empathize with them. In genre movies you usually not only hate the characters, you sometimes hate them so much that you hate the actors playing them.

Goldthwait, an uneven but interesting filmmaker, shot footage of Bigfoot believers and included them in his story. The comic-turned-filmmaker says he found inspiration from “Grizzly Man,” the acclaimed Werner Herzog documentary about a man with a profound love for bears.

31 Days of Horror:

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