SYNOPSIS OF “WILLOW CREEK” BY ROTTEN TOMATOES:
“In the great American tradition of people venturing into the woods and encountering absolutely pants-wetting terror, what starts as two dorks with a video camera having a lark in a national park metastasizes into something much deeper, darker, and queasier. Set in Humboldt County, California, Willow Creek centers on Jim (Bryce Johnson) a Bigfoot believer whose idea of a romantic getaway is to head deep into Six Rivers National Forest in Northern California, video camera in tow, trying to shoot his own Bigfoot footage at the site of the Patternson-Gimlin film. That 1967 fragment of footage purporting to show Sasquatch striding along a dry riverbed became a key artifact in the cryptozoology community, and Jim dreams of nothing more than setting foot on the actual location where it was shot. His long-suffering girlfriend, Kelly (Alexie Gilmore), agrees to tag along for the ride, despite the fact that she thinks Bigfoot has about as much chance of being real as leprechauns.”
**THERE ARE SPOILERS SO PLEASE STOP READING IF YOU DON’T WANT IT TO BE SPOILED!!**
I was interested in seeing this movie for a lot of reasons, some of those reasons being: Bobcat Goldthwait was the writer-director of this movie. Up until a few weeks ago when I first heard about this movie, I didn’t even know Bobcat directed movies! Once I heard that he directed a Bigfoot horror movie I was all in. I wasn’t sure what to expect - considering a few months ago I just watched Scrooged and all I could think about was some weird guy with a weird voice doing some weird comedy. I didn’t know if this horror movie was going to be some kind of joke or if it was going to be legit - regardless I wanted to see it.
With all that said, I haven’t quite figured out how I feel about the movie haha. There are very few movies that I research upon finishing, and this is one of those movies. To me there were three parts to this movie: the beginning/middle, the almost ending, and the ending. I’m going to break this review down by those three parts and interject in my review the research that I did.
THE BEGINNING/MIDDLE: I didn’t really care much about what was going on in the beginning. There was this guy and his gal driving to Willow Creek to try and document a Bigfoot encounter. The movie started out like all other found footage movies - however, Bobcat did a good job with making the two main characters relatable and funny. They seemed like any other couple that any of us may know. About 5 minutes into the movie I recognized the boyfriend as being the actor from the show “Popular” (GREAT show!) so I tip my hat to you Bobcat. Anyways, the actors get to Willow Creek and they are seen interviewing people within the community. What I didn’t know, and I thought was really interesting, was that most of the people being interviewed didn’t know they were being interviewed. In an interview with Indiewire, Bobcat said that people were on a “need-to-know basis” and he didn’t explain to the locals in the beginning of the movie what was really happening. He wanted the interviews to be natural. I thought that was really great and I think it adds more to the movie knowing that. So anyways, the actors head out into the woods to start hiking to the Patternson-Gimlin site. After awhile they decide to set up shop for the night and continue to hike to the site in the morning.
THE ALMOST ENDING: So this is where my attention was suddenly grabbed. Up until this point, this was just another found footage movie to me. Nothing different than what I had seen before. All of a sudden you see the two actors in the tent and they have awoken from a noise. For the next 20 minutes or so, you watch these actors react to noises and voices that they hear outside of their tent. I was absolutely mesmerized and actually really creeped out. I probably jumped 3 or 4 times and the tension was palpable. I was scared for these actors in a movie that was complete fiction. What made this scene so great? It was essentially done in one very long take. It’s intense. I remember sitting in my bed with the lights off, debating on if I should turn my light on (even though the light in my kitchen was on). There have only been a few times in which I wanted to turn a light on in the middle of a horror movie. This 20 minute scene won me over.
THE ENDING: So the couple end up surviving the night and in the morning decide to get the fuck out of dodge. Unfortunately, this does not happen. They end up getting confused and can’t find their way out of the forest. You can see that their fear is really showing through. As morning fades into afternoon and afternoon fades into evening - the couple has yet to find their way out of the woods. You see them at a river bank (as dusk approaches) and behind a series of very large bushes a noise is heard. There is running and screaming and then a black screen. It is now evening and they are videotaping the events. This is where things get interesting. There are some noises heard and then BAM! Naked woman and then screaming and then the videotape recorder drops. Then you see (as if you are the boyfriend holding the videotape recorder) the boyfriend being dragged through the grass, clothes being ripped off, screams from the boyfriend etc. Then stillness. In the distance you then hear screaming from the girlfriend and it seems further and further away. Then credits.
My thoughts on the ending were WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED?!?!?! I was so confused. Who was the naked woman??? Is she Bigfoot? Where is Bigfoot? Who was making all those noises??? I didn’t understand what I had just witnessed. Upon further research - I learned about something called a “forest bride.” I went on a lot of forums and there were a lot of confusion about the ending and a lot of scenarios that people posted, but the most popular one was that the naked woman was a “forest bride” (meaning she was used to procreate by Bigfoot) and was the missing person we saw earlier in the film, and that the girlfriend that we heard screaming off in the distance is the new “forest bride."
So with all this knowledge of the movie I’m sure you are all dying to know what I thought. Well here it is:
I did learn one important thing from this movie - I AM NEVER GOING FUCKING CAMPING.