VIFF 2013 Review: Willow Creek

The couple of Jim and Kelly get the fright of their lives in Willow Creek.
The couple of Jim and Kelly get the fright of their lives in their vacation to Willow Creek.

I saw Willow Creek at the Vancouver International Film Festival just for the heck of it. What I got was something familiar but just as thrilling and had its own uniqueness.

The film appears to be videos of a couple, Jim and Kelly, as they are about to search for the mystery of Bigfoot. The legend of bigfoot started in Willow Creek, California one 1967 day when two men names Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin claimed they sawe him and even provided a picture. The stories have kept on popping as the years went by.

Jim and Kelly head to Willow Creek to camp out in the Rockies and get their own piece of the action. Jim especially is a huge bigfoot enthusiast. Kelly doesn’t seem too into it but is cooperative with Jim nonetheless. They come to the town that’s full of Bigfoot landmark and businesses named Bigfoot. They even go to a Bigfoot diner where they have a Bigfoot burger with the buns shaped like a big foot. They interview residents, visit a Bigfoot museum and even have fun with the Bigfoot statues. They even show a singer who wrote the song Bob and Roger about the legendary discovery. It’s not to say that all has been fun before their camp-out. They did see one person who didn’t like how they were having a mock interview with a Bigfoot statue. They also met another man with an aggressively rude attitude while driving their Humvee down the valley.

That doesn’t stop them from finding another path to set up camp. They set up and then leave temporarily. Once they return they find their tent down and their stuff thrown about. Jim even finds his sock up in a tree. That doesn’t stop them from setting up again. They even sleep in the valley overnight leaving the camera running in hopes of getting a piece of the Bigfoot action. The night is a special bonus for Jim as it’s his chance to finally propose to Kelly. Kelly gives an unexpected answer but Jim’s cool with it.

Overnight they hear a lot of noises. First sounds like banging of rocks. Then sounds like loud growling. Then comes forceful actions outside their tent like their tent body being pushed. Jim and Kelly decide to leave the following morning. As they go to return to their car, Jim still tries to capture some stuff related to Bigfoot like hair from a tree or footprints near the creek. The fun ends when the two learn they’re lost without a map. The two are left stranded in the night where the unexpected happen.

Some of you may say this film sounds very familiar to The Blair Witch Project or Paranormal Activity. That’s definitely what I thought. It may be another spin off that formula but it does have elements of its own. First is of a mysterious phenomenon that’s already hugely popular and the place that made it popular. For those that don’t know, the town of Willow Creek, California is dubbed the Bigfoot Capital Of The World. They not only have all these Bigfoot places as shown in the film but also a Bigfoot festival. Back to the subject of the film, I’m sure one could see themselves doing such a film with other phenomenon like say going to Roswell for the alien phenomenon or Kelowna, BC for the Ogopogo.

Even separate from the subject of the search for Bigfoot was the story is also about the couple too. Blair Witch was of a group of friends together. Paranormal Activity had a couple but there wasn’t much focus on the relationship of the two. Willow Creek had a lot of focus on the relationship of Jim and Kelly first during their moments of fun together then on moments of great fear. Alexie Gilmore and Bryce Johnson gave a great performance as the couple. They made it work with their believable performance.

Bobcat Goldthwait also did a good job of directing and writing the story. Many of you may remember Goldthwait from the 80’s and 90’s with his comedic acting and his stand-up comedy where he had this irritatingly growling voice which people really liked. Filmmaking is something you would not normally associate with Goldthwait but he does make films of his own. This was a good film put together as it had a lot of people in suspense. Also he was at the showing for both the intro and the Q & A. Shows he still has it in terms of stand-up.

Willow Creek may remind you of certain other movies of the past but it’s a good story of its own and is worth watching. However I don’t think it may want you to check out the Bigfoot mystery anytime soon.


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