Hey gang, Valkor here. And I’ll admit that even now, when a new film crosses my desk, I get a little excited. Even more so when it stars in some way shape or form Dolph Lundgren; the dude is my 80s/90s/whenever favorite action hero and it’s rare that any film of his has ever let me down (except Shark Lake). Next on the TOV deck is “Welcome to Willits”, which was formerly known as “Alien Hunter” and it gives Dolph top billing. However, he's barely in the film, so is it still worth checking out? Read on to find out. And beware of some spoilers.
“Welcome to Willits” centers on a backwoods, pot growing, meth addict named Brock (Bill Sage – Boy Wonder), who along with his girlfriend Peggy (Sabina Gadecki), hunt down a bunch of teens, who were camping near his weed farm. Brock’s mind is filled with the thoughts of alien abductions where they did some experiments to his mind. And now he believes they’re everywhere, which includes anyone who trespasses on his property. But did the actual abduction take place or is it drug-induced hallucinations? Regardless, the teens fall into his traps until only two remain. Will they survive long enough to escape Brock’s drug fuel hate of all things “extraterrestrial”?
As far as Dolph Lundgren's role in the film is concerned, though he does get top billing, he’s barely in it. His role is mainly relegated to a TV show that sometimes intermixes with Brock’s hallucinations. And honestly, this idea of giving top credit to big names doesn’t make sense to me, as this will anger fans that are looking for their favorite star to have some serious involvement with the film. I mean I understand, you want to attract an audience, but I’ll be straight, this film doesn’t need Dolph’s little involvement to sell this picture as it does a fine job standing on its own.
“Welcome to Willits” started out a little rocky at first. But once the main events kicked in and you’re traversing through Brock’s drug-addled mind as he begins hunting “aliens”, it’s when things start to get messy and enjoyable. The levels of suspense are in the mid-range, and there are a few edge-of-your-seat moments to be had; my personal favorite is seeing Peggy, minus an eye, meet her end. Though we don’t actually see it, that crunching sound of boot meets skull is telling enough to what happened to her. Yea, I cringed and rightfully so. The film also offers up a decent level of dark humor too, and I dare you not to laugh at some of Brock and Peggy’s interactions; they’re the perfect, over-the-top example of a meth-fueled, redneck couple. Finally, I 'd like to give props to some of the practical effects, especially on the gore and the alien makeup; Welcome to Willits might be a low budget film, but the effects that were used give it a high-quality flare. In the end, I can appreciate the efforts that went into the making of "Welcome to Willits". And it has certainly paid off as the film rocks! From the jump, I didn't think I'd enjoy it, but I'm really glad I stuck with it to the end!
As I mentioned before the breakdown, it’s a waste to give Dolph Lundgren top billing for a film where he takes almost no part in; if his parts were re-cast with someone else or removed entirely, you still wouldn’t miss a beat with the overall story, since those parts feel a bit out of place. Finally, I felt Brock should have done more in terms of his traps and catching the aliens. Bear traps are cool, but some bombs would have been nice, maybe some bow and arrow action, pits, etc. Maybe a part two perhaps? I’d be down for it!
The Ugly:The giant alien head tho! But I'll admit, I kinda want one!
“Welcome to Willits” is having a limited theatrical run, but it’s also available on digital media such as Amazon Instant, Google Play, and iTunes. While the film could have used more Dolph hunting aliens, it’s still an entertaining force of its own. And it’s one film I highly recommend checking out. So, out of TOV 5 stars, I’m giving “Welcome to Willits” a solid 4.