31 Days of Halloween — Day 24: Welcome to Willits (2017) — by The Gray Man

31 Days of Halloween - Welcome to Willits (2017)

Editor’s note: The hosts of Horror Movie Podcast are always impressed by the knowledge and insights of our listenership in the emails and voicemails that we receive, as well as in the comments here at HorrorMoviePodcast.com. Once again, we’ve asked our listeners to participate in our 31 Days of Halloween by contributing written reviews. This review was submitted by listener The Gray Man, whom you can follow on Twitter @Qua419

IMDB Summary: Deep in the Northern California woods, in the heart of the notorious Emerald Triangle, lies a remote cabin. The residents struggle to fight off the repeated attacks and abductions by mysterious creatures that have plagued them for years. When a local pot farmer is caught up with a wayward group of campers, the situation quickly escalates into total chaos.

With that summary Welcome to Willits (2017) caught my attention. I felt like, this is my kind of a film. Dolph Lundgren, alien on the poster, pot farmer caught up into chaos… I’ll give it a whirl. As the movie started, I thought, this might be comedic. Instantly… no. This is going to be played serious with interludes of humor, none of which is funny.

The acting is sub-par. Dolph Lundgren is the best part of the film and his role is a cop on a television show. The main problem I had with this film, it had zero direction. The story was all over the place, with no good starting point. The summary covers what the film should have been about.

What the viewer gets is a film about a meth head that has spread rumors about aliens abducting himself and others in the area. Once the truth is revealed, I lost all interest. I felt cheated and lied to. The special effects are weak and would have improved the film. Not all the effects are CGI, but the practicals are decent. Without spoiling much, Welcome to Willits has no appeal. I wanted so much more and it droned along.

2 out of 10 ( Total Avoid )

Available now on VOD and supposedly in theaters.

—The Gray Man

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2 thoughts on “31 Days of Halloween — Day 24: Welcome to Willits (2017) — by The Gray Man


    Day 24 – Creep (2014)

    Although his mainstream roles may be hit or miss, both of which can apply to his television show, The League, Mark Duplass’ independent projects tend to all be hits. Joined by his brother, Jay, and some of their friends including Patrick Brice, the Duplass Brothers has amassed a nice collections of extremely cheap, yet quality mumblecore movies. I’m particularly fond of their 2008 low budget horror, Baghead, which I will greatly recommend to any fans of horror movies or just general low budget independent movies. As time went on, the Duplass Brothers began to gain more and more attention, and I’d presume Mark’s role on the League further helped gain exposure for the brothers. In 2014, Mark Duplass would find one of his low budget projects finally gain the attentions of mainstream audiences with Creep.

    Where Creep excels at the most is its believability. Ever since the rise of the internet in the 90s, there’s been an attached stigma on it where everyone should be wary of anyone they talk to or especially meet online. Yet, as time went on and the internet changed, suddenly people began lowering their guards with the rise of Uber, Tinder, Craig’s List, ect all making interactions with people online seem all the more logical. At its core, Creep is a tale where it re-enforces the fears that people once had about the people they interact with online. The ultimate result of Creep and fate of lead character, Aaron (Director Patrick Brice) is exactly what the viewer initially assumes will happen to him – killed by the guy he met online.

    I believe when I first watched Creep, I hadn’t explored many, if any, of Duplass’ independent work. So for me, Mark Duplass was nothing more than a comedy actor I saw on a weekly basis on The League. It’s quite the transformation to go from the harmless jerk of Pete Eckhart to becoming the mentally unhinged and dangerous Josef. The manipulation Josef uses against Aaron is pretty phenomenal. It’s repetitive, but Josef has a routine of doing something to unnerve Aaron, but then he follows that up with either an emotional response about either cancer or his unborn baby or by connecting with Aaron on an emotional level. Aaron doesn’t know how to feel because he’s constantly having these different sides of Josef hit him and each side of Josef is intense. If Josef is using cancer to gain sympathy, he’s hitting it hard. If Josef is trying to creep out Aaron, he also knows to start small, such as stripping in front of him, and then build up to the bigger creepy moments, like the origins of the Peachfuzz mask.

    Yet, one of the criticisms I’ve heard about the film is how much Aaron takes from Josef before finally leaving and the stupidity of meeting Josef at the end of the film. Yet, it’s explained nicely by Josef in the most chilling moment of the film at the end. For Josef, he loved Aaron because Aaron was such a good guy. He believed there was a good person in Josef, thus granting Josef far too many chances. Does it make Aaron foolish? Sure, but again, Josef is a pro at manipulating his targets. Even at the end when Aaron knows Josef’s claims of cancer weren’t true, Josef simply changed up his strategy and instead focused on pulling at Aaron’s heartstrings by playing up the lonely, sad man act. When we’re young, we’re taught that there’s good in everyone. For Aaron, he made the mistake of believing in that. That’s incredibly unsettling.

    Another strength of the film is its ability to keep the viewer unsure of what’s going to happen next. In the first half, it’s all about what kind of guy Josef truly is, but truthfully, that’s not where the film excels at being unpredictable. Where the film truly becomes unpredictable is after the truth comes out from a phone call with Angela and Aaron lets on to Josef that he knows the truth. Writers, Duplass and Brice, then proceed to toy with the audience just as Josef is toying with Aaron. First it’s showing a video of Josef seemingly dragging garbage bags filled with Aaron’s cut up body to bury, only for it to be revealed that Aaron is watching a video of something Josef sent him. The cat-and-mouse game continues as the viewers know that Josef is in Aaron’s neighborhood, but you never know when he will strike. Will it be when Aaron is outside, discovering the knocked over garbage can? Perhaps it will be when Josef is literally inside of Aaron’s home while Aaron is asleep? As it turns out, it’s neither! Then as the film progresses into its finale, I had zero fear that Josef would kill Aaron at the lake in the public setting. After all, the film had already fooled me multiple times already. In fact, a big part of how Josef lures Aaron to the lake is explaining all of the ways in which it’s a safe place to meet him. Yet, what happened? Josef kills Aaron with an axe right out in the open! I was doubting it was going to happen as late as when Josef was holding the axe over his head because it’s a scene straight out of a cartoon. Surely that can’t be how Aaron is finally killed, but it is. Frankly, it’s brilliant how Creep is so predictable in terms of Aaron’s ultimate fate, but it’s totally unpredictable for when it actually happens. On top of all of that, I wasn’t even expecting the film to ever leave the cabin and becoming a multiple location film once Aaron returns home.

    There are times in which I find some moments to be cringe worthy or at least a little wacky. Such scenes include the whole tub scene, Josef’s interactions with the Peachfuzz mask, Josef’s pleasurable moment while he’s nearly passed out, and the true story behind the Peachfuzz mask. Yet, I don’t know if I actually dislike the scenes as much as they make me feel uneasy, just like how Aaron is supposed to feel. The film does a swell job at balancing between that line of being goofy and being dark comedy. The one negative I do know I feel is that Patrick Brice’s acting as Aaron wasn’t the best. However, I’m not going to knock Brice too much because he doesn’t have much acting experience and his shortcomings are only made more clear when in comparison to Duplass’ stellar job as Josef.

    Overall, Creep was a stand out horror film from 2015 and it holds up nicely after two years. It’s a prime example that you can create an unsettling horror film without much money or even cast/crew. Mark Duplass showed his wide range in ability quickly going back and forth between showing different sides to his Josef character. At the time of typing up this review, Creep 2 is set to be released on VOD shortly and I hope it manages to live up to this original. Otherwise, it will be a grave disappointment.

    Rating: 8.5/10

  2. Day 24: Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)

    This is a dark Walt Disney live-action film based on the novel by Ray Bradbury. A traveling carnival comes to town and feeds off the desires of the townspeople. The story has similarities to Stephen King’s It and Needful Things.

    Jonathan Pryce is truly scary as Mr. Dark, the leader of the carnival. The effects are really good for the time and there are some very suspenseful moments. James Horner’s score is in your face and slightly unfocused, but captures the unfocused craziness of this film. It feels too dark for a Disney film but fits into that time in the 80’s when children’s entertainment was dark and fanciful. Something Wicked This Way Comes is an oddity that captures an autumnal Disney magic. 7/10

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