Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Willow Creek Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Allie Schembra
Looking to make a splash with his research videos into the existence of Bigfoot, Jim (Bryce Johnson, "Pretty Little Liars") and his skeptical girlfriend Kelly (Alexie Gilmore, Labor Day, God Bless America) take a camping trip to the mountains surrounding Willow Creek, California, a small town where famous footage of the legendary Sasquatch was filmed decades earlier. Jim believes Bigfoot exists and is intent on finding the very spot where the huge, hairy, man-like creature supposedly strode. But before long, Jim and Kelly are lost in the woods and discover that someone - or something - is stalking them. With each passing night bringing unknowable danger, the two must use all of their cunning to try to make it out of the forest alive.
Film (3 out of 3 stars)
Jim and his girlfriend Kelly set out into California’s Trinity National Forest in search of Bigfoot. Jim wants to find the site where the only known footage of Bigfoot was ever caught. Kelly on the other hand is the skeptic, who would rather vacation somewhere else and not have to hike into the woods and camp.

When Jim and Kelly arrive at the Bigfoot Motel, they begin filming the locals and surrounding areas. A few of the locals are more than willing to share in their experiences and relate their stories. Once they’ve completed their initial interviews and getting stock footage, they venture out into the woods. As they drive down the road, they encounter a man who is adamant about them turning around and not going any further. They finally give in and turn around, but Jim knows of another way to get to the site. However, that alternate route means hiking in a few hours and camping overnight in the woods.

Jim and Kelly set up camp before reaching the film site, and take off for a swim in the river. When they return, their campsite is torn down and things are strewn about. Jim and Kelly set up the tent again and when they go to bed, they begin hearing strange sounds in the wood – crying, howling, sticks tapping together. As the night goes on, the noises increase and something out there begins throwing rocks at the tent. The torment escalates until whatever is out there shakes the tent.

When morning arrives, Jim and Kelly start the long hike back out of the woods, but keep getting turned around. After walking in circles and losing the daylight, they are forced to camp in the woods. Once again, they hear strange noises, experience strange happenings and when they go to investigate, they find that they definitely aren’t alone in the woods.

I enjoyed Willow Creek. Living in Northern California, I’ve grown up hearing stories or Bigfoot and have even visited the area. I thought the documentary-stye filming for this movie was cleverly done and interesting. Bryce Johnson and Alexie Gilmore were good in their roles. Both were believable and I could sense the terror between them. It was surprising that Bobcat Goldthwait directed the film, as I think of him only as a comedian.
Video (3 out of 5 stars)
Willow Creek’s 1080p 1.78:1 anamorphic wide-screen presentation was good. The picture was clear and the colors crisp and bright. Shot as a documentary, the picture could be a little shaky at times, but still good. Night scenes were natural and darkness was realistic.
Audio ( 3 out of 5 stars)
The 5.1 English DTS-HD Master Audio was good. The dialogue was good and intelligible and background sounds were also good. The banging of the sticks in the woods was really good and echoes were sharp and easily heard. 2.0 English PCM Lossless audio is also available and subtitles in English are also included. Also included under the Audio tab is also the commentary, which is included in the special features section as well.
Extras (2 out of 5 stars)
  • Play Feature with commentary by Writer/Director Bobcat Goldthwait and stars Alexie Gilmore and Bryce Johnson – The film in its entirety with explanation on how the film started, their thoughts on the film, the true stories and real people and locations used in the film. This was a little interesting, but after a while, got really boring.
  • Cliff Brarackman’s Deleted Scene – One deleted scene from the film. It’s another interview with a “Bigfoot “expert. It was a good scene to have removed from the film. I didn’t think that it bought anything and the background sounds (wind, cars, etc) were really distracting and made it difficult to hear.
  • Bryce Johnson’s “The Making of Willow Creek” – Behind the scenes footage of the making of the film.
  • Trailer – The official trailer for the film
Summary (3 out of 5 stars)
Willow Creek took a long time to really get suspenseful and creepy. Once it did, it reminded me of why I am not a huge fan of camping. Camping to me is in the middle of South Lake Tahoe where “roughing it” means I have to walk a half mile every morning to the Starbucks. The Bigfoot legends are intriguing and always fun to hear and reminded me that I haven’t been up to far northern California in quite a while. Willow Creek is a film that believers and can both enjoy and it’s one I will leave on my shelf for future viewings.

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