Jim wants to make a documentary about the legendary Bigfoot and sets out to capture evidence on camera. His girlfriend Kelly is not a believer, but agrees to join him on his trip to Willow Creek, the site of a famous alleged sighting of the creature. But in the silence and darkness of the forest at night, they soon find more evidence than they might have wished for.
Willow Creek is a 'found footage' movie, like The Blair Witch Project. Its central characters are investigating a creepy local legend and documenting it on film, also like The Blair Witch Project. The first half involves interviewing local people and filming odd locations, while the second half features long scenes of the characters getting scared in a tent or in the forest - er, just like in The Blair Witch Project too. I guess what I'm saying is the concept behind this movie isn't particularly original. The story is quite simple, and it doesn't have a great deal of depth. Given all that, I was surprised to find that - in the end - I actually quite liked this film.
Yes it has limitations and a lack of originality, but it does what it does surprisingly well. True, nothing creepy happens until about 40 minutes in. But the acting is believable, and Jim and Kelly's lighthearted banter and rapport keep the first half entertaining. There's even a splash of gratuitous male nudity for a change. The later scenes build a high level of tension, and although there's not much interesting to look at in some very long sequences, the sound effects really come into their own. Who knew some simple clop-clop noises and a bit of whimpering could become so terrifying? Oddly, I can't help thinking some of these later scenes - including the ending - shouldn't work at all. But they do. And they work very well.
I doubt that Willow Creek will ever be seen as a horror 'classic', and it certainly doesn't offer anything new to the genre. But for an uncomplicated thrill ride, it does its job perfectly well. And thankfully without the need for men in bad gorilla suits, or swinging the camera around until we all have motion sickness. By all means crank up the volume and snuggle up with a big bowl of popcorn. But be careful not to throw it in the air during the movie. 3.5/5