Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Will Willow Creek Be Worth The Goldthwait?

While those crypto-lovers lucky enough to have caught comedian-cum-director Bobcat Goldthwait's film The Bigfoot Witch Project [sorry...checking notes...oh, actually titled Willow Creek] have been having nonstop nerdgasms, the rest of us are left wondering about this film. It wouldn't be fair to give a critical analysis of the film without having seen it, but I can delve into some of the buzz to see if will fall on my must-see list.

Willow Creek is another entry into the bloated (and frquently contrived) genre of film known as Found Footage, which involves shooting in a cinema verite style to effect the look of a low-budget documentary, news report, or social media narcissism. It's a filmaking technique that was novel when it came to the forefront with the Blair Witch Project in the 1990s, but has quickly become a lazy way to make an inexpensive film (Paranormal Activity anyone?) that relies heavily on cheap scares.

But what made the Blair Witch Project so effective was that, for all intents and purposes, this style of film had never been done before. There was a large number of people who thought it was real. THAT was its one, highly-successful hat trick. But once your mind has been blown, it's hard to unblow it. Over time, the entries into the found footage category have mounted like fetid corpses of lazy filmmaking with only the rarest of gems rising out the muck.

Is this one of them? I can't say. Not until I have seen it.

But I'm pessimistic. The contrived nature of the genre requires the viewer to overcome one huge obstacle: Why the hell are they STILL filming? I mean, the killer or the monster or the aliens or the demonic entity is savaging them constantly, but even at the height of the terror, someone is still worried about filming? To say this stretches credulity is an understatement.

In the Blair Witch Project, we see that the documentary's auteur is a driven, almost manic woman. We can understand her will to keep getting everything on film. But when the shit hits the fan and they're running for their lives, we're given expected terrible shots of the cameras swinging wildly about while the filmmakers run for their lives. This would make sense. What doesn't make sense is film after film telling to believe Dave or Sue is going to keep pointing the camera in the face of terror while getting clean shots.

What may, however, work in Goldthwait's favor is that (from what I hear) there is nary a Bigfoot in the film. This not only saves the director from having to come up with some horrid costume or terrible CGI creature, but also allows the audience to feel the unknown terror through the characters and the filmmaking. Fear of the unknown is always better. Take Freddy Kreuger for example: in the first Nightmare on Elm Street, he's a shadow. Years down the road, Freddy's a joke because practically see him in broad daylight.

In my opinion, Willow Creek is meandering through a flood-prone region scarred by the numerous failures before it. It will have a hard time overcoming the Found Footage stigma, but I'll confess: I'm curious about seeing a Bigfoot film that doesn't have Bigfoot in it from a guy who isn't a horror director. While inarguably an offbeat comedian, I am willing to bet Goldthwait is concerned about story here and not scares. For that reason, I'd be willing to give Willow Creek a shot. Now, if it can just make it to a showing around these parts...

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