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Welcome to Willits (2017) - Movie Review

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Welcome to Willits (2017) - Movie Review

2 stars

Drugs are bad, mkay?  Especially when your particular drug of choice (and in the case of this movie it’s meth) causes a severe hallucination in which you mistake a bunch of teenagers for invading aliens and then go about picking them off of your pot farm one by one.  Damn, stupid meddling aliens, I mean, kids.  This is the weird and frustrating territory of Welcome to Willits, a horror comedy that is, unfortunately, neither.  It does have; however, a pretty DIY gnarly alien design and a bunch of gruesome effects.

Oh, and there’s a Culkin (specifically, Rory) featured in this super low-budget caper who pretty much plays a homeless teen (and, yeah, he looks the part).  And Dolph Lundgren portrays a cop in a television show that is buried deep within the movie.  If you’re scratching your head in the hopes there’s a big payoff here, well, stop itching.  There isn’t.  Let me save you the time on this yarn, dudes and dudettes.

Directed by Trevor Ryan and written by his brother Tim Ryan, Welcome to Willits is a sound idea for an original slasher for sure.  The key ingredients are all in place for a damn good and gory time: An isolated weed farm.  A spooky cabin.  A bunch of teenagers looking for a high.  And a paranoid farmer who may or may not be targeted by aliens.  Definitely, somewhere in its DNA, this narrative had the chance to be something pretty remarkable for those of us who like to scrounge about for genre flicks.

Unfortunately, Welcome to Willits’ originality in form and what it does with the standard tropes trips over itself and fails in its function to entertain.  I think there is a lot of promise in the ideas of the Ryans, I just hope their execution – beyond some awesome practical effects – improves a great deal with their second feature.

My hope in my trespassing into the redneck territory of this twisted genre flick was that the film actually worked, even if it was a copycat of 1980’s Without Warning.  Hell, I was up for anything and the idea of Lundgren and WWE’s Shad Gaspard as cops was a definite plus for me.  So it’s not a copycat.  Good.  But even Z Nation’s Anastasia Baranova’s solid performance as a teen caught in the middle of meth head mountains and your typical teen valleys below can’t anchor this one.

There are missed opportunities running throughout this galaxy quest into the mind of a murdering meth head.  The group of teens out looking for some hot springs to take a dip in fail to make a splash because they are treated as simple fodder.  The man running the show is Bill Sage as Brock, Mister Methadone himself, and Brock, as a lead character, is not the best of places to reside with for very long.  He’s delusional and strung out and, as he ropes Peggy (Sabina Gadecki), his wife, into his paranoid world, his journey is not one marked with sympathy.  It's just a paranoid spectacle of confusion. 

And, just when he bags his first alien, you begin to suspect all is not right in his world because the teens - getting closer to Brock's property every minute - are also missing one member of their party.  A-ha!  It’s as I suspected all along; teenagers really are from outer space.

Welcome to Willits might sound inviting but, beyond its initial greeting, it’s a good place to be gone from.

Welcome to Willits (2017) - Movie Review

MPAA Rating: Unrated
Runtime:
82 mins
Director
: Trevor Ryan
Writer:
Tim Ryan
Cast:
Bill Sage, Chris Zylka, Anastasia Baranova
Genre
: Horror | Sci-fi
Tagline:
They haven't come in peace.
Memorable Movie Quote:
Theatrical Distributor:
IFC Midnight
Official Site: welcometowillits.com/
Release Date:
November 16, 1976
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
September 22, 2017
Synopsis: 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.

No details available.

Welcome to Willits (2017) - Movie Review

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