Hello there fellow twisted tourists, it’s Thakgore and today I bring you a review of the upcoming horror comedy, “Welcome to Willits”. This movie is definitely something different, I can tell you that right off the bat. It wears many hats during it’s short run time, but the one thing it certainly was not was boring. So sit back and let’s take a trip together to the Emerald Triangle of California and hope we are….
Directed by Trevor Ryan, and written by his brother Tim Ryan, “Welcome to Willits” is the most original take on the classic slasher formula I’ve seen since “Tucker and Dale vs Evil”. The story involves a group of doomed “teens” who are traveling into the woods searching for some hot springs to frolic around in. They run up on some local pot farmers on a meth binge who are convinced they are being besieged by aliens. The meth-heads are intent on protecting their pot farm at all costs and vow to bring bloody retribution to the “aliens” they are at war with. Sounds nutty huh? It absolutely is.
The charm of this movie is in the unbridled comic insanity that pervades nearly every frame. I found myself laughing out loud many times at the sharp dialogue and visual gags. They might not have had a whole lot of money to make this one, and while it did constrain them a bit where it counts, they mostly spent their limited funds judiciously. The gore effects and alien makeups were top notch and appropriately slimy and creepy.
The acting was mostly solid with only a few moments where it dipped in quality but special mention should go to the two methed out pot farmers, Bill Sage and Sabina Gadecki as Brock and Peggy. Their manic, meth-fueled relationship anchors the movie and they pull off the job with twisted aplomb. Sage, in particular, straddles the line between funny and horrifying masterfully. You will be laughing at his antics several times throughout the movie but when the terror ratchets up in the third act Sage changes gears and brings the fear in spades.
Rounding out the distorted reality of the film is a TV series within the movie called “Fists of Justice”. Fashioned after cheesy 90’s sitcoms, yet strangely out of place in the contemporary world of the film, the show is featured several times both within the real world and the distorted reality of Brock’s drug-fueled fantasy. It slowly eats away at Brock’s mind to the point where he starts imagining that the characters on the show, played by Dolph Lundgren and WWE’s Shad Gaspard, are actively looking to arrest him for his criminal activities. I loved the inclusion of this and it only helped to accentuate the psychedelic nature of the film.
In conclusion I have to say I had a great time with “Welcome to Willits”. Despite some noticeable budgetary constraints the film was clearly made with love and talent. I look forward to whatever the Ryan Brothers do next because their debut effort is an absolute blast. I highly recommend it. 4 out of 5