Director: Trevor Ryan
Writer: Tim Ryan
Stars: Bill Sage, Chris Zylka, Anastasia Baranova, Rory Culkin, Dolph Lundgren
Plot: 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 carnage.
Running Time: 84 Minutes
IMDB Score: 4.4
Why I Watched It: I blame this one on Netflix, the plot sounded quirky and I like Bill Sage and of course Dolph Lundgren is a genre God.
Random Thoughts: Tone is something we take for granted with films but tone might be one of the most important things in making a good film without it you have a mess with it you get flow and also a sense of what the film is. Watching Welcome To Willits is a text book case of how tone can ruin a film.
What I Liked: The film is a very strange hodgepodge it’s maybe five different films and sometimes weird and quirky is enough for me, you might call this a kitchen sink movie and if you have the right tone and actors you can pull it off. Bill Sage is a very underrated actor he’s been around for a long time and he does varied work but he’s never had that big role, here he’s pretty much the lead he gets the most screen time and he’s good maybe the only standout thing in the film. His character is interesting and also damaged and in a better film this might make a very solid character piece also he’s kind of sad he’s not trying to be bad or hurt people so there was somewhere to go with him.
I’ll also say Rory Culkin is fun but he’s in another movie, part of this film plays like a stoner slasher film and he’s good in that and I would have liked to see him do more, he’s funny but it doesn’t fit with the film, not his fault.
What I Didn’t Like: Tone, yup honestly that good be the whole review the film craps the bed with tone, I honestly have no idea what this film is about, they throw different ideas and different genres and by the end you don’t know what’s going on and really there’s no reason for this to be. There is a story here about a hippie you grows pot and has become mad, crazy if you will and he’s got mental issues and it’s clear as the film goes along that this is the case but the film does such a bad job telling that story that by the end you don’t care.
So Bill Sage’s character says he was captured by aliens and this fuels him, he has visions and he feels they’re coming back for him and he has a girlfriend who believes him but of these people do a lot of drugs most of them homemade. Alright so there’s a couple of ways to play this, a black comedy, a story about someone who is crazy, or it’s true and it’s a horror film Welcome To Willits try all three ideas, they throw in a bunch of young people camping, city people in the country and that plays like a slasher film but it’s not a good slasher film. This could have been a cult comedy/horror but they can’t nail down the tone.
This film is short at under 85 minutes and it still feels bloated, Dolph Lungren is in this film as himself on a TV show that the main character watches, he has nothing to do with the plot. He could have been cut and the film stays the same, all the young people could have been cut out. The Bill Sage character is the only kind of decent idea but the film and it’s makers don’t know what story they want to tell with him.
Final Thoughts: A mess, and in a bad way.