Willow Creek Blu-Ray Review
Blu-Ray Review- Willow Creek
Distributor: Dark Sky Films
Street Date: September 9th 2014
Technical Specifications: 1080P Video, Color, 1.78:1 Aspect Ratio, 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
Runtime: 80 Minutes
The legend of the Sasquatch in North America can likely be traced back to the Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest, but stories like it have been passed down across various cultures throughout the world. From the Yeti (or Abominable Snowman) of the Himalayan region of Tibet and Nepal, to the homegrown legend of Bigfoot himself, there have been numerous purported “sightings” all over the globe. Most would agree that the legend received a spike in popularity when Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin filmed what they claimed to be a 7 foot tall female Sasquatch in Bluff Creek, California. The resulting footage has been shown in movie theaters, news broadcasts, and is readily available online. Many different scientists and video analysts have both debunked the film as a hoax, as well as supported the film as evidenced by the apparent difficulty to recreate it. In 2014 famed Director and comedian Bobcat Goldthwait shocked the horror world when he announced that he would be making a found-footage type Horror film centering on the Bluff Creek location, albeit with a twist.
In Willow Creek, we’re introduced via supposedly found footage to a young couple named Jim and Kelly on their journey to Willow Creek, California. Jim is making a documentary on the subject of Bigfoot, aiming to film their entire trip to Bluff Creek, the sight of the Patterson-Gimlin footage. Once they arrive in town, they hit up a few local “Bigfoot” restaurants and souvenir shops, talk about the legend himself with the townspeople, and get some advice on how to go about their trek into the woods to find Bluff Creek. Some of the town folks even warn them about their journey, which the naive couple repeatedly shrugs off.
Jim and Kelly proceed to make their way into the wilderness surrounding Bluff Creek, backpacks and tent in tow, but Kelly insists that they stop to camp for the night roughly halfway there. During the night, strange growling and clawing sounds come from within the woods, slowly getting closer and closer to the couple, as an unknown creature begins to attack the tent. Morning comes, some odd hair is found nearby, and the couple decides that they’ve had enough. But the drama doesn’t stop there! After walking for hours, they figure out that they have been walking in circles the entire time, ending up at their original starting point. Now may seem an odd place to cease with the plot details, but if I told you anymore, it would ruin the movie. I’ll just say that the chaos begins now, with only roughly ten minutes left of the film (ugh).
Willow Creek is one of the most dull, cliché, and tedious Horror endeavors I’ve come across in some time. It’s not scary in the slightest, meandering with excruciating long takes of the couple walking through the woods, and features an ending similar to The Blair Witch Project that doesn’t answer any questions (and even leaves the viewer asking a few more). I’ve enjoyed some of Bobcat Goldthwait’s previous directorial efforts, notably World’s Greatest Dad, but Willow Creek doesn’t have any of his signature dark humor or style. In fact, it’s rather confusing as to why the man directed this film at all. Despite feeling as if the “found footage” genre has overstayed it’s welcome for more than a few years now, I was initially very warm to finally seeing this film, especially with Goldthwait at the helm. Let me make this abundantly clear, there is nothing to enjoy here for Horror fans. There are no scares, the plot takes literally the entire movie before anything significant happens, and when that significance comes, it’s already the last five minutes of the film, and it doesn’t make any sense. Avoid this one at all costs folks!
This is one of those cases where the video quality isn’t nearly as important due to the constraints of the cameras utilized. The movie appears to be shot with a standard HD camcorder, and looks accordingly. Contrast and colors are undefined for the most part, and obviously look better in well-lit scenes. Definition is near non-existent, again, due to the source material. Willow Creek was made to look like it was shot by amateurs with a High Definition camcorder, and that’s exactly how it looks here.
On the other hand, the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track delivers fairly well here, balancing the dialogue and creepy sound effects with dynamic ease. There is a slight “ringing” evident throughout, perhaps a filter made to increase the believability of HD camcorder audio, but it sounds fine nonetheless.
Dark Sky Films has provided fans of Willow Creek with a few select special features for this Blu-Ray release. Here’s a breakdown of what’s included:
- Commentary– This feature length commentary with Director Bobcat Goldthwait, Alexie Gilmore, and Bryce Johnson gives viewers some insight into why the Director chose the material, how certain scenes were planned out, how the small cast and crew made a feature film from a 20-page outline, and more.
- Cliff Barackman’s Deleted Scene- Running roughly 4 ½ minutes, this deleted scene from the film features “Jim” interviewing Bigfoot expert Cliff Barackman. I personally can’t imagine another 4 ½ minutes of random interviews added to this already tedious film.
- Bryce Johnson’s The Making of Willow Creek- This one runs roughly 11 ½ minutes and features actor Bryce Johnson’s personal behind-the-scenes footage he captured on the last day of filming. The entire running time is dedicated to filming a crew member (along with Goldthwait) as they use the “bigfoot” shoes to make the footprints seen at the end of the film.
- Theatrical Trailer- The original theatrical trailer for Willow Creek. This is the trailer I remember watching, you know, the one that really made me want to see this film! Yikes.
As you can see from the “Unboxing” pictures below, this Blu-Ray edition from Dark Sky Films features the theatrical poster design for Willow Creek, including the large skull with Bigfoot and human silhouettes walking at the top. On the reverse of the packaging you’ll find a plot synopsis, a list of special features, technical specifications for the disc, as well as select production stills from the film. On the interior of the packaging you’ll find the Blu-Ray disc, which mirrors the art from the cover.
Willow Creek is one of the most dull, cliché, and tedious Horror endeavors I’ve come across in some time. It’s not scary in the slightest, meandering with excruciating long takes of the couple walking through the woods, and features an ending similar to The Blair Witch Project that doesn’t answer any questions (and even leaves the viewer asking a few more). Having enjoyed some of Bobcat Goldthwait’s previous directorial efforts, Willow Creek doesn’t have any of his signature dark humor or style, and is utterly lacking as a Horror film. The Blu-Ray picture quality is OK, mimicking the hand-held HD camcorder style of the film itself, and never really displaying anything wondrous to behold on your High Definition television. The audio quality is decent, but the special features included here are, much like the film, a rather boring affair. It’s been a long time since I’ve been so hard on a film, especially in a genre where I regularly give ample lee-way, but this one is terrible folks. Avoid it at all costs!