SEPTEMBER 8, 2011
Every now and then, an independent horror movie comes out of nowhere and gets a fairly wide release, and we're left to figure out why, when so many deserving films get released on 10 screens or dumped directly to DVD. And while every now and then one of them is like Black Waters of Echo's Pond, a not great but perfectly decent time-killer, most are like Creature - terrible films that wouldn't even be worth the rental cost, let alone a 12-14 dollar ticket plus whatever other expenses one might endure when they head out the cinema.
But while you can usually blame Twilight for such things (Transylmania was also vamps, Chain Letter had Nikki Reed), I fail to see anything about Creature that suggests the film might manage to find an audience to make this endeavor successful or even worth the effort. The only recognizable actors are Sid Haig and Pruitt Taylor Vince, playing a couple of the interchangeable rednecks who fulfill their horror movie duties without any fuss - they creep out our heroes at the gas station/general store, hint about the local boogeyman, and then pop up doing redneck-y things until they either die or are revealed as villains. In other words it's the sort of lame ass role that I've seen in a dozen DTV movies, none of which were any less worthy of a theatrical release than this thing.
It's also an embarrassingly bloodless affair. While the movie offers up plenty of nudity (including full frontal in the first scene) and out of nowhere subplots about lesbianism and incest (hey-o!), it is a complete failure when it comes to the things that matter: the kills. Most are off-screen entirely, opting for a sleight of hand technique where we see a character react to what has just happened to them out of frame, and then there's a cut to them holding out their half-chopped off arm or looking at whatever impaled them. Not only does this result in some very confusing kills (Mr. Vince seemingly dies instantly from getting his hand chopped off), but it draws intention to the most insulting thing about the entire movie...
...and that's the fact that it steals liberally from Hatchet. After an opening kill that may have been a gator, we meet our heroes, who stop in at a place that offers swamp tours, and then hear about the local legend (Grimley instead of Crowley) from a guy with a bad Cajun accent (oh yeah, it's also Louisiana). Then we get a flashback that depicts the origin of our swamp monster killer, which even begins with a closeup of chopping wood as Hatchet's did. Grimley's shack looks a lot like Crowley's, and both films take their time getting to the kills. But whereas Hatchet made up for its back-loaded structure with 6 or 7 terrific, all practical and on-camera kills, this gives us nothing in return for our even longer wait (the first victim from the group of kids dies at the 65 minute mark), as even minor (non-fatal) attacks occur just below the camera range. Hilariously, the movie's host boasted about how the movie was all practical - well why wouldn't it be? There was nothing that would require someone to work hard instead of using CGI; they were merely being lazy in two different ways.
Christ, it doesn't even give us an actual climax! Grimley and our remaining hero (the black guy; the best thing I can say about the movie is that it isn't immediately obvious who our final girl/guy are) both run up to the "altar" where the cult has gathered to offer their sacrifice, and begin fighting one another while all of the cult members instantly disappear. As they fight, a sinkhole slowly opens up nearby, and we get at least a dozen cuts to the thing as it gradually increases in circumference. Finally Grimley is knocked inside, but then he resurfaces and pulls the girl under. Hero then jumps in after (think Wesley saving Buttercup from the quicksand)... and then they both come back up after a jump cut, with Grimley's jaw in his hand. I'm sorry, what? You're not even going to actually show us our heroes battling the killer to the death? GO FUCK YOURSELF.
The movie is the writing/directing debut of Fred Andrews, a production designer who comes mostly from a television background, following David "I made the worst Saw" Hackl's lead into proving that perhaps being a production designer should not be a gateway into directing. Hell the movie doesn't even have good production design; Grimley's house is kind of cool looking, but the general store is laughably slapped together, with random six packs of beer everywhere and a few bottles of warm Gatorade placed under a shelf that says "Fishing Supplies"*. I had to laugh though, as I checked his IMDb to verify that this was indeed his debut, I noticed that one of his few feature production designing credits before this was, you guessed it, Dark Ride. I also noticed that he kept applauding dull lines and anticlimactic kills in his own movie (he was sitting in front of us), so I guess I have no choice but to assume that he is proud of this thing. Personally, if I made an "old school slasher" and the only good part of the entire movie was when a girl gave her brother a hand job, I'd be embarrassed.
Well, he should be proud of one thing: getting a wide theatrical release. Sadly, and of course he didn't know it at the time that the deal was made, but this will make the 6th horror dud in the past month, which is bad for studio AND independent horror. At least if it went DTV (and believe me, it barely deserves that much) it would just be lost on the shelves and likely only seen by people like me. Now it can be used as an example of why it's not worth the dough to mount theatrical releases for smaller horror films. Thanks a lot, Creature.
What say you?
*There's also a bust of JFK for some reason, which prompted one audience member to say aloud "Yo why's Ronald Reagan there?" As this was a free radio station sponsored screening, there were plenty of obnoxious idiots in the crowd, but honestly, inane comments like that were far more entertaining than anything on the screen. And the never ending glow of cell phone lights kept me awake, so thanks for that.