NOVEMBER 25, 2010
I know what I'm thankful for, but I'm curious, on this Thanksgiving Day... are you all thankful that I spend part of my holiday watching nonsense like Crippled Creek? I hope so. Either way, I'm thankful that I caught the movie at all, since it's about to expire from the Instant service (this Wednesday, I believe), and thus I would had to have rented the disc and run the risk of sitting through a commentary or making of that would annoy me even further than the movie itself did.
Of course, I don't know if the disc has any bonus features, because it seems this movie has gone under the radar even more than usual for these sort of things. The IMDb page offers no "DVD details", and I cannot find a single review of the disc proper (IMDb's external reviews offers two links, one of which doesn't work and the other makes no mention of the DVD's details at all). Though I am sort of curious how bad the disc itself looks, since it looked like ass on Netflix. Luckily, you can watch the film at its "native resolution" (native for the stream, not the original film), and it was no smaller than usual, so I have to assume writer/producer/DP/director Hans Hartman either didn't know what he was doing when he compressed the film for DVD, or he used a shitty camera to begin with.
Shockingly, the sound is even worse. I don't know if they had a microphone at all; perhaps they just recorded everything with the camera's mic, regardless of how far the camera was from the actors (a boom operator IS listed, for the record). But if you watch the film, prepare yourself to not be able to make out half of what these idiots are saying during a few scenes. You'll be able to pick out a few key words and use their body language to tell what's being said, but it's pretty far from fully intelligible start to finish. Again - I'm 100% supportive of folks making movies on their own seemingly to teach themselves. But when they charge for it, it becomes a bit of an insult. Learn from your mistakes, and make another movie. It's like baking! If you screw up the recipe you don't shrug and sell it at the bake sale anyway - you throw it away or feed it to the dog. Folks need to do the same for their amateur productions that can barely be considered intelligible (except don't feed the tape to your dog. Just upload the film on Youtube*).
Anyway, it could look and sound like a 70 mm print of Lawrence of Arabia and still be a pretty terrible movie. It's the same sort of usual shit - three girls go off to the woods for a relaxing getaway, they meet up with a couple of local boys, party, and get killed. Well, make that: party, tell ghost stories, bicker, walk around the next day, party some more, tell ANOTHER ghost story, party a bit more, then get killed. This movie takes FOREVER to get going, something you will probably figure out from the opening titles, which run about 3.5 minutes, and are actually kind of confusing - they split the title and the name across two cards, so you'll see a name on screen but what they actually DID (i.e. producer, FX, music) has already passed. The padding is so excessive I actually started wondering if this was supposed to be a joke - at one point they fade from one 10 second shot of a girl sweeping the porch to... another, wider angle of the girl sweeping the porch (another 10-15 seconds here). We're also treated to not one but two scenes of the girls going to the bathroom in the woods, more or less in real time.
Worse, there is no indication that they're even in a horror movie until the first kill. No POV shots from the killer, no "our car broke down let's see if anyone's home in this weird house" type stuff, nothing. They just chill out for an hour and finally one of them gets killed mid-coitus. From then on it gets a bit better, because it's just a lot of running and yelling, plus our killer is apparently a cannibal, which is under-utilized in the realm of throwaway motives. I mean, there's definitely a debt owed to Texas Chain Saw here, but it follows the slasher playbook more than the sort of survival horror that Chain Saw is. However, if Hartman thinks for one minute that anyone will be fooled by the "revelation" that the forest ranger is actually the bad guy, NOT the weird hermit, then he needs a helmet. Hilariously, the movie is so blurry I couldn't really tell them apart anyway, so the twist "worked" in the sense that, yes, I wasn't sure which one was the killer when they finally faced off at the end.
The soundtrack also hurts the film. The songs aren't too bad on their own, but they are wildly inappropriate for the scenes they play over. The only exception is a mopey singer-songwriter thing playing over a scene of our heroine crying about the fact that her boyfriend is back at home seemingly with another girl. Totally fits the scene... unfortunately it starts about a minute too early, over the shot of our first kill (the aforementioned mid-coitus one). It might have worked if the editor (guess who?) knew what he was doing and put the breakup scene BEFORE the kill scene - it would have made the kill more of a surprise. We cut from the sad girl to the happy one in the throes of passion, the song continues... and WHAM! The guy gets axed. Instead he does it the other way - we finally get a kill scene that comes out of nowhere and has no build up, and most of it is drowned out by some Howie Day wannabe lamenting his romantic woes. Whatever, Hartman.
The movie does have one saving grace (well two, if you count the surprising amount of nudity in this no budget production, and the girls are actually attractive as well), which occurs late in the film, during a typical heated discussion over whether or not they go back to find a friend or put their own safety first and get out of there. Beat for beat it plays like normal, but the dialogue (thankfully mostly intelligible for once) elevates it into pure inanity. The guy (Paul Logan from Mega Piranha - the first instance of someone's career actually improving once they secured a role in an Asylum production?) is the one who wants to just get the hell out of there, and after arguing a bit, finally puts his foot down: "Listen bitch, the only thing I care about is getting home to my wife!" HEY-O! This of course changes the direction of the argument, as she cries about the place they were going to get together and that she loves him (they just met the day before, mind you), and he actually "goes there" and says "That's just what we call pillow talk, baby." Then her other friend comes out of nowhere and whacks him over the head. It's pretty sublime; I laughed at the whole scene for about 5 minutes straight and even rewound it, which is a pain to do with the Netflix instant player on Xbox but worth it to hear it all again.
Oh, and the part early on when the girls get pulled over by a ranger whose jeep sports a blue/red flashing light that was seemingly made in After Effects. Again, it's almost like they tell you right up front that you're about to watch a piece of shit. They didn't try to hide it at all.
This movie also offers what I believe is a first - end credits sponsors? As soon as they start (and, it should be no surprise, they're overlong - Hartman is aware that a movie can be 80 or even 70 minutes long, right?) they run up the left side, which usually means "blooper reel!". But instead, we just get graphics of logos for things like Sobe Adrenaline and local pizza places. Like "Oh shit, we forgot to put these in the actual movie! Quick, highlight them in the credits!" Of course, I'm sure each and every business represented would have preferred a casual shot of their product during appropriate scenes (i.e. a Sobe on a store shelf or drink machine). Instead, now they're directly and clearly associated with it. Suckers!
What say you?
*Hah! It IS on Youtube in its entirety! I only linked the trailer below as usual, but it's there if you look - and seemingly legal, it has advertisements. Enjoy?