DIRECTOR: Trevor Ryan
WRITER: Tim Ryan
Deep in the Northern California woods, in the heart of the notorious Emerald Triangle, lies a remote cabin. The residents of the cabin are struggling to fight off the repeated attacks and abductions from mysterious alien creatures who have been plaguing them for years. A local pot farmer, his niece, and his girlfriend are caught up when a group of campers who are on his land, and all hell breaks loose, he believes the aliens and campers are one of the same.
In a twist of fate, I just happened to come across the trailer for Welcome To Willits on YouTube while I was passing the time, watching horror movie trailers on the site. Up until that point, I had no idea that this movie even existed as I'd never heard of the film before that. It was the cast for the film that peaked my interest. I knew a lot of the younger cast from other horror films and decided to give this movie a go. I wasn't sure what to expect, but this looked like a weird and wild ride.
Welcome To Willits is a mixed bag. Yet after sitting through it and having a couple of days to think about it. I think I actually enjoyed the film more than I disliked it. This is a film that in the last nine months, I don't think I've seen anything quite like it. It was different to most of the stuff that I've watched this year that I think I can really appreciate the absolute absurdity of what takes place on screen. This is a pretty out there and bonkers backwoods alien horror, and it's worth at least a once off watch.
Let's talk about the tone of this movie. This movie shifts between a comedy, science fiction, and meth induced horror. It happens so often that this may alienate some of the viewers who go in expecting something that is pure horror. One thing that I can readily admit is that I think the tonal shifts in this movie worked for the most part. I believe that it helps that a lot of the weirdness and craziness that happens in the film is made believable because it's all drug-related horror.
In terms of story, this isn't exactly original. A lot of the basic plot elements have been used in a lot of other horror films. We have the cabin in the woods, we also have that group of friends who are camping in the woods. We also have had alien based horror in the wilderness. The tropes are ripe in this film. While this won't win any awards for being a cerebral mindfuck, this is different enough that in a year that has been filled with a variety of films. This will stand out on its own as I doubt we'll see anything like this in the next three months.
While I found myself enjoying the craziness that is on screen. I have to come back to the way that this movie builds up towards the third act. I enjoyed the build up more than the payoff. I thought they were clever in creating a horror movie about a group of campers being hunted down by a couple that is on meth who are hallucinating and paranoid and believe that the campers are aliens, so they end up killing them. I think that Welcome To Willits third act feels very formulaic. I thought this felt very similar in tone to Tucker And Dale Vs. Evil. If you love that movie, you should find something to enjoy here.
What this movie gets right is that this has a hell of a lot of gore in it. The red stuff is splashed all over the screen. We get carnage candy by the bucket loads. We have a homage to Alien with its very own chest burster scene. Welcome To Willits even has what appears to be a homage to American History X where a woman bites the corner of a step, and a man stomps on her skull. For the gorehounds, this is one that should tickle your fancy. You'll walk out a happy horror fan.
When it comes to this being scary, Welcome To Willits is more in line with the comedy horror side of things than a straight up horror film. There isn't any scares to be found here. A lot of aliens and gore can be found, but due to all of this taking place during a meth binge, a lot of the scenes play pretty ludicrously. It's not made any scarier when we keep reverting back to scenes involving Dolph Lundgren as a detective on TV that plays like a nineties NYPD Blue type of show. It's all very tongue in cheek.
Lastly, the acting is hit and miss for me. I think the stand out is Bill Sage. I love this actor. I love that he can move from dark indie films to comedy horror with ease. He is the strongest in this film. Chris Zylka and Thomas Dekker are decent and handle their own in their jock roles. The actor that was the biggest distraction for me here is Rory Culkin. The more I watch him, the more I realise he plays the exact same role in all of his films. The weird loner and I've had enough of him. He actually bugs me. Has not even an ounce of the screen presence that his brother had.
DEATH TOLL: 7
BLOOD AND GORE:
- A man is seen covered in blood.
- A man has a vision of being abducted by aliens.
- A man is shot in the head with a shotgun.
- A woman is shot in the back with a shotgun.
- An alien is shot in the head with a shotgun.
- A guy is decapitated.
- An alien burst's through a man's chest.
- Someone bites the corner of some stairs and has their skull stomped on.
- A man is decapitated by a log splitter.
- A man is stabbed in the stomach.
- A woman is shot in the head.
- A man steps in a bear trap.
- A man is repeatedly hit in the head with a tomahawk.
- A man is seen cutting up a body.
- A woman has a twig impaled through her eye-socket.
Go into Welcome To Willits expecting to watch a bonkers, backwoods, meth-induced horror comedy, and you should have fun with this one. While it doesn't add anything really new to the genre and follows a lot of the tropes that we've come to expect from these films. I think due to not seeing a movie like this in some time, it felt fresh and fun. A solid performance from Bill Sage and some solid blood and gore and we have an above average comedy horror flick. Worth a watch.