SEPTEMBER 20, 2009
I try really hard to like Lionsgate, but their behavior is so goddamn appalling sometimes it’s a wonder I bother. Blood Creek (aka Creek, aka Town Creek) is the latest in their seemingly never-ending line of films that are dumped unceremoniously into budget theaters, sans any sort of marketing (is there even a poster for this goddamn thing?) or even notice to the press - it wasn’t until Friday that any of the sites were aware the film was even opening. When I told Mr. Disgusting that the film was pretty good, he was baffled how I even saw it at all.
No, it’s not going to make the Academy give a 2nd thought to how they treat horror films (which is identical to how Lionsgate treats them - i.e. like shit), but it’s an enjoyable, marginally original, and fast-paced tale, with a franchise-ready villain and some truly entertaining setpieces. Add to that a setup for a sequel that doesn’t feel shoe-horned in (and actually suggests a wider-reaching and potentially more interesting followup), and you have a film that deserves far better than the treatment it has received.
I mean Christ, the Norwalk theater that me and IconsOfFright’s RobG went to see it (one of only two within a 50 mile radius of Los Angeles that was playing it) was behind a closed store (which itself was behind a plaza), part of a shopping complex with the least user-friendly parking lot I have ever seen. The theater itself couldn’t even afford to keep the ticket booth open, instead you walk right by that (smashed) window to the concession stand to buy your tickets (in theory it’s actually a good idea - but if you get to the theater a few minutes late, you don’t want to be waiting behind the guy who can’t decide between Starburst and Sour Patch Kids). The tickets were only 2.75 - which is awesome if you have cash or a sweet tooth, but for me and Rob, we only had our debit cards and had just eaten, this meant one of us had to buy the other one’s ticket, due to the “5.00 minimum for debit/credit” rule (kind of hilarious that spending under 10 dollars would even be an issue at a Los Angeles-area movie theater). But the real evidence that we were in a slightly under-the-radar place came with the trailers. Lionsgate attached Saw VI of course, but the theater tossed in “upcoming” movies like Halloween II and Orphan (the Orphan trailer was so old it was actually missing chunks - but not the “An orphan will never be loved as much as a real child” line that was pulled from the trailer everywhere else in the world but this pathetic little theater). Surround sound? Forget it. I was amazed the seats actually had cupholders.
Again - the movie deserved better than this. It starts off a bit troublesome, with a frenetic pace that seemed to suggest studio re-editing, but as soon as the villain (an immortal Nazi who has been trapped in a family farm since World War II) is unleashed, it’s top notch entertainment. You get the legit scares and suspense (the villain can resurrect people and put them under his control) and laugh out loud nonsense (he can do the same for horses), but either way the film is entertaining; and the frenetic pace that was originally annoying plays to its benefit. Even during the obligatory exposition scenes, there is still an urgency to them - the film never really slows down.
This does cause some problems though. One is that we never really get to know Henry Cavill’s character, who drops everything instantly to aid his brother (Dominic Purcell - who is essentially playing his Prison Break character) who has escaped from the Nazi after two years and wants instant revenge. We know he feels a bit guilty, but that’s about the extent of his character development. Maybe BECAUSE of the similarities with Prison Break (one brother risking everything to help the other) it feels like we are getting short-changed. Purcell’s character was never as well-rounded as Wentworth Miller’s on Break, so I think I was expecting Cavill to similarly take charge.
The other problem is with those exposition scenes. Our sympathetic female lead (Emma Booth) explains why the Nazi guy is trapped there, why they have been torturing people, etc - but she says it so fast (and while the place is under attack) that I actually missed some of what she was saying (the theater’s terrible sound system didn’t help). Because of that, you might find the movie full of plot holes, as this one line explains why she and her family have been feeding people to the guy, despite the fact that they are seemingly trying to destroy him. In short - pay attention, maybe use the subtitles or your rewind button to make sure you got everything.
I was surprised how dark the film was. The film was directed by Joel Schumacher, who managed to turn Burton’s version of Gotham into a glorified Las Vegas (he probably would have made Batman’s costume pink and green if he could). The whole movie takes place at night, but even the interior scenes (with source lighting) feel like they have been underexposed. Maybe he took all of the Batman criticism to heart and has decided to go in the complete opposite direction. Lighting aside, it’s a surprisingly low-key directorial effort from this once A-list, big budget/high concept director. It’s funny, earlier in the day Joe Lynch polled his twitter followers on what their favorite Schumacher films were, and I struggled to pick a 3rd after Falling Down and Lost Boys. I opened his IMDb page to see what I was forgetting (Flatliners) and was surprised to see how many of his films I thoroughly dislike (Phantom of the Opera, his Batman entries, 8MM, hell he even made Bad Company, one of the few Bruckheimer films I never wanted to re-watch). So it’s ironic that this, a film that’s release wasn’t even reported on BoxOfficeMojo, is actually one of his best films, doubly so when you consider that you’d probably never guess he had anything to do with it.
I’ve now watched two movies in the past week that reminded me of The Unborn. It! had the Jewish background stuff, and this also deals with Nazi experiments. Seems there are nine keystones that hold power (all of which were located in farms in or around Virginia), and Hitler sent out guys to investigate them. It’s not really Nazi heavy - all references to Hitler, Third Reich, etc are pretty much just limited to the first and final scenes, but it’s an interesting and unique backdrop for a horror movie, one I am surprised isn’t used more often. First of all, Hitler REALLY DID delve into the occult, which should lay the groundwork for a hundred movies. Secondly - what could be more terrifying than an immortal Nazi (especially this particular one, who is about seven feet tall, has superpowers, and looks like a Cenobite)? I can only assume that once you bring up Hitler, you have a “character” that people hate more than your actual villain, but that’s a weak excuse.
Interestingly, the character is played by Michael Fassbender, who is currently in far more and far better theaters as Archie in Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. Dude likes playing Nazis I guess.
I really wonder why Lionsgate didn’t at least put this into one of the slots for the After Dark festival. Maybe it’s not as marketable as Saw (now that Prison Break is off the air it can’t even boast a “star”), but it deserves at least some semblance of a real release, with an actual marketing campaign and such. But then again, maybe because of the way it was tossed out into the world, my expectations were far lower than they would be had it gotten a regular release (or if I had seen it prior to its dumping, as I did for Midnight Meat Train, Burrowers, and Repo). In the end, it’s a solid B-movie that will have to struggle to find its audience on DVD, where it will be lost among the hundreds of shitty horror movies that deserved their shared fate. But hey, look on the bright side - there will be 5 more Tyler Perry movies from now until the next one they dump (Daybreakers, perhaps?). Yay?
What say you?