Ready to give us a hit… of horror and laughs, comes “Welcome to Willits” a film to be released on select theaters and VOD on September 22 via IFC Midnight. This gory mix of aliens, conspiracies and hallucinogens is also the directorial debut for Trevor Ryan.
In this film, a group of would be-campers decide to go deep in the forest of Willits, a small town below the public’s attention that has become the perfect place for marijuana growers, meth addicts, and conspiracy theorists. Setting camp in a private property, the group end up crossing paths with Brock, a psychotic, drug-addled pot farmer. Before they can know the danger they just walked into, the campers end up being hunted by Brock and his wife Peggy, both convinced that extraterrestrials are out to get them, and have resolved to not go down without a fight.
“Welcome To Willits” Is a very interesting horror film. We could say that it brings a new twist to the slasher sub genre, and has some very funny moments, but you need to be in the right mood to appreciate it (And no, I am not suggesting the use of drugs). I liked the premise a lot, and although there were a couple of characters that annoyed me (mostly for portraying the tired stereotypes) the film was never boring.
The performances by Bill Sage and Sabina Gadecki as the drugged couple resolved to defend themselves from the alien invaders was great, and without a doubt the best part of the film. Even when we are aware of what is going on, and the horrible things they are doing, they win us over with their charisma. At times the film allow us to see things from their perspective, alternating scenes with an old cheesy TV show that seems to connect with Brock on several levels, giving depth to his character and allowing us to understanding him better.
I liked the special effects, most of them practical, and the design of the alien creatures was great. You can see that the film had some limits due the budget, but I think the creators managed to do wonders despite of this, and what they put on the screen worked. The film has a good amount of gore and blood, enhancing the dark humor of the story, and I got chills with some of the deaths that were not shown, but I could understand that they were not pretty.
The camera work was very well done, at all times I could see clearly what was going on, even on the more frantic action scenes, there was almost none of the “hand-held shots” that often takes me out of the story and tends to be overused. The pacing is very good, and for a film with a run time below the 90 minutes, the plot never dragged once the action started.
In conclusion: Even if you are not into “Stoner humor”, this film is very entertaining and gives a different approach to the “Tourists in peril” theme, we can compare it with the excellent “Tucker and Dale Vs Evil”, but I believe “Willits” is not that much of a comedy, I take it more as a horror film with some very funny moments. It holds up after a second viewing and manages to be entertaining without relying in jump scares or ridiculous plot twists.
The film was directed by Trevor Ryan and written by Tim Ryan, the cast includes Bill Sage (We Are What We Are), Garrett Clayton, Anastasia Baranova (Z Nation), Rory Culkin (Intruders, Jack Goes Home), Chris Zylka, Thomas Dekker, Sabina Gadecki (Dark Was The Night), and Dolph Lundgren (Rocky IV, Don’t kill It, and The Punisher).
“Welcome to Willits” will be released on select theaters and VOD on September 22 via IFC Midnight.