The Blair Witch Project was the first found-footage film to really make a cultural impact back in 1999. Then the genre rested dormant for ten years until it was revived by Paranormal Activity. Now it seems like almost every horror movie that comes out is found-footage. What once felt like a novel and interesting take on the horror genre has now all but devolved into self-parody. Hollywood just doesn’t seem to know when to stop beating that poor dead horse.
Controversial director Bobcat Goldthwait tries his hand at this ubiquitous genre with mixed results. His past films such as World’s Greatest Dad and God Bless America were excellent, dark comedic satires on American culture that pushed the envelope. Both of those films had strong characterization and took excellent stabs in regards to their respective social commentary. His new film Willow Creek creates a sense of unbearable and agonizing dread within the characters and situations, but then does little else with it. Once you’ve seen a found-footage film, you’ve seen them all.
Dating couple Jim and Kelly go in search of the elusive Big Foot. The couple interview locals, then drive out to the forest area, hike out on foot, camp out, get terrorized by scary noises, Kelly screams several times, rinse, dry, repeat. Goldthwait is successful by causing the viewer to be on the edge of their seat experiencing this couple’s terror, but only to a point. After the fourth or fifth “strange noise” that these people hear, the film becomes agonizingly tedious and needlessly drags on and on. Every cliché that comes with the found-footage genre is to be found here. Why does everything need to be filmed? Why doesn’t the couple just listen to the warnings of the creepy guy walking down the road in the middle of nowhere? Why don’t they just leave when any normal person in real life would have turned back ages ago?
Goldthwait is so focused on scares, that the characters are unfortunately put on the back burner. Most of the film consists of trailing these two people. At first we like them, then we start to get bored by them and then get irritated by their increasingly dumb behaviour. People in horror movies tend to make increasingly stupid decisions. This film is in the exact same boat to the point where the characters are mind-numbingly idiotic.
Willow Creek creates a pervasive sense of discomfort and unease in the viewer. What it won’t do is be remembered long after that due to the monotonous and repetitive nature of the film, along with its idiotic characters and their increasingly poor decision-making skills.
2.5 stars out of 5