JULY 21, 2011
SOURCE: DVD (OWN COLLECTION)
Knowing that I may be watching them on a little portable player*, I usually try to bring low-budget indies to watch when I go to Comic Con, because there's no sense compressing a big budget movie with a great surround track on a little screen and headphones. More often than not, the films aren't very good, and for the most part Backwoods Bloodbath (onscreen title is extended to include "The Curse Of The Black Hodag", though it shouldn't - it's a great title without it) is no exception. However, the script is better than most of these things, and there's a sense of true filmmaking drive (that "Hey let's make a movie!" feel, not "Hey let's make some money!") going on at times that won me over.
Oddly enough, part of it seemed influenced by Hatchet, but since it was copyright in 2007 (the same year as Hatchet's release) I assume this is just coincidence. But obviously that sort of thing appeals to me - backwoods swamp monster, slasher antics, couple of hunters... all in the same vein. But what makes it worth mentioning is that not only does the killer share a certain trait with Victor Crowley (one that wasn't revealed until Hatchet II) concerning his seeming immortality, but there's another twist that mirrors one I myself came up with for a potential Friday the 13th sequel back when I was like 16 or so, and had since transposed into the Hatchet mythos (hey, Green seemingly wants to give up the director's chair; maybe by the time they get to like Hatchet 7 they'll give me a shot).
See (spoiler), there's actually a second killer, and while it may be a bit of an eye-roller, I didn't blame the script. It was a cool way to blend the supernatural local legend type slasher along with the whodunit type, not unlike My Bloody Valentine, but if Harry Warden was ALSO killing people along with Axl. Unfortunately, the actor playing the human killer was the worst in a film that was sadly filled with lousy performances, and that was singlehandedly holding the film back.
For example, when the guy reveals what he's been up to to the girl he just fooled around with, she just seems somewhat annoyed rather than freaked the fuck out that her new boyfriend just wiped out half of her friends. There's also another guy who just wants to watch (listen to? Couldn't tell) a ball game and can't be bothered with anyone else's problems or drama, and while it's supposed to be funny it just comes across as obnoxious, because the guy can't get any laughs out of the material.
But the killer guy is the worst. His emo dialogue isn't very great to begin with, but he manages to make it sound worse with his stilted delivery and total lack of presence. Ordinarily, a bad performance or two isn't enough to ruin a movie, but when the two most important characters in the film are incapable of making a single line seem believable or natural, it makes it hard to get into.
Luckily there's enough obvious effort on the filmmaker's part to make something a little better than the usual piece of junk modern slasher to keep it just above water, or at least level with the surface. The surprise twist actually worked and actually made sense out of something that was sort of bugging me throughout the movie - not enough shots of the "Hodag" (swamp monster slasher), so that was cool. Also, there was more energy to the cinematography than I was expecting. A lot of these movies tend to have that "let's plop the camera down wherever it can get the actor in the shot" feel to them, but this one was obviously blocked out and competently edited together (though a few unnecessary nude shots were inserted into the love scene and seemed to be of a different actress, and even if not were so clunkily inserted it seemed like Tyler Durden had momentarily taken control of my DVD player). In short, they seemed to know what they were doing for the most part. Maybe not a quote for the poster, but again, I've seen worse. Oh how I've seen worse.
Hell, I've MADE worse. There were a few moments early on that reminded me of my old cable access movie Fright Reviews: The Movie (based on the not-long running show of the same name), in that the director clearly just had a few of his pals doing him a favor, and some not particularly well-fitting humor mixed with a slasher story. There was even a guy who sort of looked like I did 10 years ago in long shots, which was a bit trippy since I was pretty tired while watching and thus momentarily confused. So maybe that's part of why I sort of enjoyed this one - I was subconsciously jealous that Donn Kennedy was able to make something in the same vein that was worth showing to someone besides his friends (though the sequel we did isn't too bad). Indeed, this actually won best feature at a NY based indie film festival, whereas I think my mom was pretty relieved that our movie only aired once on the public access station.
So again we have a movie that a normal person might watch and say "This is the worst thing I've ever seen", and they might not even be wrong. But if you're a Horror Movie A Day type, you know how awful and incompetent indie movies like this can truly be, and this ain't one of those. Hopefully Kennedy can secure some competent actors and maybe a little more dough on his next feature; I see enough promise here to tell he deserves the chance.
What say you?
One year (before I had a portable player and just brought a cheap DVD player and cables along) the video input jack on the hotel TV didn't work, and thus explaining why I *had* to switch rooms ("I watch a horror movie every day...") was the stupidest I ever felt about doing this. So now that I have the portable, even if the input doesn't work on the TV, I can at least still watch movies without having to sound like a jackass to the lady at the front desk, who is always super nice to me (I stay at the same hotel every year) and let me check in early (like, 11 am) without charging me extra. So when in downtown San Diego, stay at the Horton Grand! Awesome place.