Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Devon Sawa, Sanoe Lake, Matthew Laurence, Siena Goines, Fernando Romera, Dan White
Written and directed by Mark Stouffer
Useless trivia: Creature of Darkness was written and directed by Mark Stouffer and stars Devon Sawa. The 1997 film Wild America was based on the naturalist exploits of young Stouffer and his two brothers. Devon Sawa starred in Wild America as Mark Stouffer.
Creature of Darkness puts a different spin on the alien hunter premise by making this being called “The Catcher” an extraterrestrial collector of the human species, much as a butterfly collector would. It even keeps an eye on its potential captures from afar with a Predator-like P.O.V. – less infrared, more robo-leprechaun green-o-vision. It is armed with vertebrae bolos and neck-choking projectile tendrils, and with a wave of its hand can control quantum physics to create deep dirt pits in the ground.
I really wanted to like Creature of Darkness. I liked the look of the monster (not the CGI version of it, more on that momentarily), and this notion that it’s gathering specimens for some space museum could have been intriguing had they done anything with it. I just wanted more than another teen slasher variation on Predator. I also wanted The Catcher to be a more efficient predator. Its early success appears to owe less to its own cunning than to the innate ability of these young idiots it’s hunting to do stupid things. Boy, do they do stupid things. And say stupid things. I was cheering on The Catcher after a very short period of time.
Creature of Darkness feels sloppily assembled and is constantly at the mercy of its own meager budget, lackluster scripting, and clumsily staged action. There is no character development to speak of unless you consider alternating between annoying yelling and phony attempts to act cool under fire character development. But every now and then for a few moments the film sprung to life to remind me what might have been.
Predator hunted soldiers in the jungle. The Catcher stalks twenty-something dirt bikers in a hilly area in the vicinity of a military base. These youngsters are there to help a friend (Devon Sawa, now looking more like a poor man’s Zachery Ty Bryan than the guy we remember from Final Destination) deal with the nightmares he’s been experiencing about a scary green monster terrorizing people in precisely the location they’ve made camp at and under the very hunter’s moon in the sky just like the one that very evening. The idea was for him to confront his nightmare. Unfortunately for them, his nightmare is real and looking to confront them.
Sawa has been haunted by chronic nightmares ever since his military man uncle told him of his near fatal encounter with The Catcher. This almost hints at a psychic link between Sawa and the alien, but that aspect is never explored. It’s really just an excuse to get them in this location to be hunted and how convenient is it that this uncle knew everything there is to know about this Catcher so that Sawa can then sit everyone around the campfire and fully explain to them and us everything we, the audience, need to know about what is going on. I believe “Mystery Science Theater 3000” would call this “Plot Convenience Playhouse”.
Are we really expected to believe this Catcher has been at hunting Earth for years, and in all this time it has yet managed to catch any African-Americans or a Latina or bottle blonde?
The Catcher spends most of its time dressed up in Jeepers Creeper garb for reasons we’re told has to do with its skin not liking our atmosphere or something along those lines. The real reason probably has more to do with not being able to afford a full-body alien costume. What we do see of its head and hands may look rubbery in texture, but the design remains a solid one. Yet, for the final third the alien is fully exposed and almost fully computer animated and looks awful even by Syfy CGI standards, more like a temporary schematic that the computer animators will animate over later. This alone kills nearly every scene it appears in.
If you thought the alien trapped in the pantry in Signs was eye-rolling, then just wait until you see how defenseless The Catcher proves to be when having to contend with the awesome might of a dune buggy and some rope.
Useless trivia 2: Creature of Darkness was funded by a Powerball lottery winner. Money well spent.
1 1/2 out of 5
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