As found-footage freakout, Bobcat Goldthwait’s Willow Creek doesn’t appear to break any molds. Following an attractive young couple, Jim (Bryce Johnson) and Kelly (Alexie Gilmore), who go sleuthing for Bigfoot in Six Rivers National Forest in Northern California, the story barrels toward a resolution that will feel preordained once the pair is crazily diverted by an unnecessarily angry yokel from entering the path toward Bluff Creek and the site of the famous Patterson–Gimlin film. But the 19-minute long take that serves as Willow Creek’s climax, of Jim and Kelly frightened inside their tent as strange animal-like noises seemingly taunt them from outside, is a force of queasily suggestive power that has little to do with the audience’s sense of the characters’ fate, and whether it will come at the hand of Sasquatch or the area’s mountain people.
Unlike Leigh Janiak’s upcoming Honeymoon, a flat cautionary tale that tritely correlates marriage with alien invasion, Willow Creek doesn’t muddle its metaphorical frisson. Goldthwait is no heavyweight when it comes to characterization, but it’s telling how he stresses Kelly’s doubts about Bigfoot’s existence very early on, and how she goes along with Jim’s journey anyway because, well, she likes being with him. Their compatibility as a couple is unmistakable, if mostly in their shared sense of humor, but once they reach Bluff Creek, and before darkness has set in on their journey, Jim pops the question, only to be rebuffed. Dovetailing Jim’s search for Bigfoot with his no less reckless wanting of marriage, Goldthwait lays bare a characteristic male pursuit of power to which females are often made subservient. In the end, Willow Creek may not scare the bejesus out of you, but it may surprise for how cannily it detonates the presumptuousness of more than just one brand of masculine mythmaking.