Directed by Fred M. Andrews
Attack the Block. Tucker & Dale vs. Evil. Troll Hunter. Rare Exports. Hatchet. Let the Right One In. Rec. Rec 2. Trick ‘r Treat. None of those movies were able to secure a wide theatrical release; yet, here’s Creature on 1,500 screens this weekend.
An R-rated rubber suit monster movie with no name stars (apologies to Sid Haig) and even less advertising; here it is most likely playing at a theater near you. As much as I’d like to applaud the makers and distributors of Creature for accomplishing this feat, I just rattled off a list of vastly superior genre films far more deserving of such a wide release. I firmly believe the filmmakers had their hearts in the right place when conceiving their film, but I don’t have a clue where their heads were when they convinced themselves they had made a movie that belonged anywhere near the big screen. Last week when I reviewed Shark Night 3D, I tempered my rating because I could not justify why anybody should be expected to pay theatrical prices for something that felt like it should have gone direct-to-DVD. Now here’s Creature on the big screen, a movie that I can’t even justify why anybody should pay to watch it on DVD.
I’ve stated my love for swamp monster movies on numerous occasions. How many reviews have I written decrying the lack of old fashioned rubber monster effects work? Good or bad, even if just to laugh at its shortcomings, a b-monster movie like this should be fun to watch. Creature is dull, witless, horribly written, not scary and, worst of all, doesn’t even make good use of its monster.
As much as I’ve advocated the use of practical suitmation over CGI because it allows for more interaction between the actors and the monster, one of the biggest problems with Creature is there’s still not much physical interaction between the actors and the creature. It does as much posing and posturing as a monster challenging the Power Rangers but barely lays a claw on anyone before the climax. I wanted to see this scaly monstrosity spend more time stomping other people than merely stomping about. This gator is all growl and no bite.
Even more puzzling to me is how the makers were fully committed to the R rating, what with a multitude of f-bombs and girls flashing their small boobies. Yet, when it came to delivering on gore, they got shockingly prudish. Most of the deaths take place off-camera; in a few instances you don’t even see so much as the bloody aftermath of its attack. Why not just ditch R-rated elements altogether, shoot for a PG-13, and have it truly be an old fashioned monster movie in the vein of Creature from the Black Lagoon? The filmmakers claim that was their goal, but this feels more like a backwoods slasher flick along the lines of Hatchet.
A carload of young characters (as boring as the creature suit is rubbery) are on their way to New Orleans when they make a stop at a backwater store, where they learn about the local legend of a half-man/half-alligator named “Lockjaw” said to prowl the bayou. One of the friends is even more familiar with the legend and reveals in detail via voiceover/flashback how the last member of an inbred family magically transformed into an insane man-gator after killing and eating the albino alligator that ate his incestuously impregnated child bride. And after hearing that story, who wouldn’t want to take a detour to visit the shack in the swamp where it was all said to have happened?
Fifty very sluggish minutes go by before much of anything really ever happens. They go to the house. Set up camp. Smoke some pot. Experience some lame jump scares. Contend with spiders and snakes. A half-hearted lesbian seduction takes place. Rednecks bicker over whether any of these outsiders are worthy of being sacrificed. Any appearances “Lockjaw” makes during this time are just that – appearances.
Between Shark Night and Creature this marks the second week in a row where Louisiana swamp people are portrayed as the most cretinous of cretins. Sid Haig does get to ham it up a little as “Chopper”, the leader of some constantly yelping yokels who are all part of a cult that worships at the altar of “Lockjaw” for reasons too convoluted and uninteresting to even bother explaining. Remember Children of the Corn? Think of these folks as Cajuns of the Muck.
The movie remains on life support until the closing minutes, when there’s finally some monster fighting action to get the blood pumping. That fight promptly gets the rug – or should I say the mud – pulled out from under it in the most contrived manner possible, a manner that doesn’t even allow for us to get a full view of what exactly went down, and I do mean that in the literal sense.
I love monster movies like Creature. I want to support monster movies like Creature. I want more monster movies like Creature. I just want them to be better monster movies than Creature.
1 out of 5