|HAPPY DAYS - NOT FOR TOO LONG, THANKFULLY.|
Dir. Bobcat Goldthwait
Starring: Alexie Gilmore,
Review By Greg Klymkiw
In the wilderness, in the dark, it's sound that plays tricks upon your eyes - not what you can't see, but what your imagination conjures with every rustle, crack, crunch, moan and shriek. When something outdoors whacks the side of your tent, reality sinks in, the palpability of fear turns raw, numbing and virtually life-draining.
You're fucked! Right royally fucked!
There were, of course, the happier times - when you and the woman you loved embarked on the fun-fuelled journey of retracing the steps of Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin who, in the fall of 1967 shot a little less than 1000 frames of motion picture footage of an entity they encountered striding through the isolated Bluff Creek in North-Western California.
Your gal was humouring you, of course. She was indulging you. She was not, however, mocking you - she was genuinely enjoying this time of togetherness in the wilderness as you lovebirds took turns with the camera and sound equipment to detail the whole experience. You both sauntered into every cheesy tourist trap in the area, chatted amiably with numerous believers and non-believers alike and, of course, you both dined on scrumptious Bigfoot burgers at a local greasy spoon.
Yup, Bigfoot - the legendary being sometimes known as Sasquatch or Yeti - a tall, broad, hairy, ape-like figure who captured the hearts, minds and imaginations of indigenous populations and beyond - especially when the Patterson-Gimlin footage took the world by storm. And now, here you both are in Willow Creek, California, following the footsteps of those long-dead amateur filmmakers.
All of us have been watching, with considerable pleasure, your romantic antics throughout the day. When night falls, we've joined you in your tent and soon, the happy times fade away and we're all wishing we had some receptacle to avoid soiling our panties. You're probably wishing the same thing, because in no time at all, you're going to have the crap scared out of you.
We have, of course, entered the world of Bobcat Goldthwait's Willow Creek. Goldthwait is one of the funniest men alive - a standup comedian of the highest order and a terrific comic actor, oft-recognized for his appearances in numerous movies (including the Police Academy series). He's voiced a myriad of cartoon characters and directed Jimmy Kimmel's TV show and subsequent concert flick.
In addition to these achievements, Goldthwait has solidified himself as one of the most original, exciting and provocative contemporary American film directors working today. His darkly humoured, satirical and (some might contend) completely over-the-top films are infused with a unique voice that's all his own. They've made me laugh longer and harder than most anything I've seen during the past two decades or so. Even more astounding, is that his films - his first depicting the life of an alcoholic birthday party clown, one involving dog fellatio, another about an accidental teen strangulation during masturbation and yet another which delivered a violent revenge fantasy for Liberals - are ALL films that have a deep current of humanity running through them. His films are as deeply observational and genuinely moving as they are nastily funny and often jaw-droppingly shocking.
Willow Creek is a corker! It forces you to emit cascades of urine from laughing so hard and then wrenches wads of steaming excrement out of your bowels as it scares you completely and utterly out of your wits. It's a "found footage" film, but I almost hesitate to use the almost-dirty-word term to describe it, because Goldthwait, unlike far too many boneheads, hardly resorts to the sloppy tropes of the now-tiresome genre.
He's remained extremely true and consistent to the conceit and in so doing, used it as an effective storytelling tool to generate an honest-to-goodness modern masterwork of horror. His attractive leads are nothing less than engaging (lead actor Johnson reveals a scrumptious posterior for the ladies and, of course, gentlemen of the proper persuasion). Goldthwait's clever mixture of real locals and actors is perfection and the movie barrels along with a perfect pace to allow you to get to know and love the protagonists, laugh with them, laugh with the locals (not at them and finally to plunge you into the film's shuddering, shocking and horrific final third. The movie both creeps you out and forces you to jump out of your seat more than once.
Goldthwait is the real thing. If you haven't seen his movies up to this point, you must. As for Willow Creek, I urge everyone to see the film on a big screen with a real audience. Sure, the movie will work fine at home in a dark room with your best girlie snuggled at your side on the comfy couch, but - WOW! - this is a genuine BIG SCREEN EVENT. Try to see it that way, first!
"Willow Creek" is an official selection of the Toronto After Dark Film Festival.