Blood Creek (2009)
Reviewed by Mr. Dark
Starring Dominic Purcell, Henry Cavill, Michael Fassbender, Emma Booth, Rainer Winkelvoss
Directed by Joel Schumacher
Lionsgate earned no small amount of ire from horror fans last year when it unceremoniously ditched Midnight Meat Train in tiny 'dollar' theaters rather than giving it a full theatrical release. When people finally saw the film, most were outraged, as it was a badass little Clive Barker adaptation with great performances, excellent direction, and all sorts of grue for any gorehound to adore.
Lionsgate has done it again with Blood Creek, releasing it in a handful of bargain theaters with no notice or promotion. The backlash on this one has been tamed by the fact that Blood Creek was directed by Joel Schumacher, hardly a popular man in Hollywood or among movie fans.
Why? I can answer that with one simple sentence:
Nipples on the batsuit.
I need say no more.
So is this another travesty of justice, as was the case with Midnight Meat Train? Has Lionsgate made another terrible mistake, wasting an excellent low-budget original horror film?
Nope. Definitely not. Surprisingly enough, however, it isn't totally Schumacher's fault. Or ... is it?
Blood Creek starts out in 1936, in West Virginia. A family of German immigrant farmers is trying to make ends meet in post-Depression America, and sees a light at the end of the tunnel when an offer from the German government arrives via mail. If they'll only house a historian from the homeland while he does some research, they'll receive $150 a month...a tidy sum in 1936 dollars. They accept, not knowing they've sealed their fate by doing so.
This early period stuff is shot very well, and is surprisingly effective. It sets the mood, and when Herr Wirth (Fassbender) arrives and begins his dark work, the audience is prepared for a bumpy ride.
Too bad the rest of the film fails to capitalize on this bright beginning.
Fast forward to present day, where a long-suffering young EMT named Evan (Cavill) copes with a mentally incompetent father and a war hero brother that went missing two years prior on a camping trip. He's just trying to move on when the brother, Victor, (Purcell) suddenly appears in the night asking his brother to grab weapons and accompany him on a mission up Town Creek for a little payback, no questions asked.
And thus begin the problems. No questions asked? Your brother appears in the night, looking like a mountain man, hideously scarred, asking you to drop everything and go out with the intent of doing harm to something or someone...and you're not supposed to even ask for a basic reason? When Evan finally does ask, Victor shuts him down completely, yet Evan still goes along. In short, things stop making sense early on, and they really don't start back up again.
When they arrive at what turns out to be the farm from the period footage at the beginning and you see that the same family is there, no older than they were in 1936, it's clear bad things are afoot.
And they are, but I'll be damned if many of them make sense. Wirth has become something much worse than a 'historian', and has the potential to become Armageddon walking. That's fine, but his amazing powers are balanced with limitations that just don't make sense. He's confined to a root cellar by mojo worked by the family...so why not leave him there? Why let him out? Why feed him? Never explained or even hinted at, the audience is immediately met with a general sensation of 'what the hell' before the story has a chance to get going.
As things play out and the film becomes a siege story, our lead proves to be dumber than a sack of Rob Zombie remakes. You've just killed two zombies after watching them come back to life...when body number three starts walking around, why the hell would you hesitate? Why would you put zombie #3 someplace where he can easily escape rather than wasting him like the first two? Are you hoping to pop down to CVS and grab some Zom-B-Rid to cure him after you find a way to escape the Thulian blood sorcerer?
That's just one example. The script in this one (which was rewritten by Schumacher) cripples what would otherwise be an effective, nasty little horror film. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a bad movie. The creature design, as seen on the one-sheet, is absolutely killer. The film moves at breakneck pace, providing wall to wall action. Now if only we didn't spend so much of that time wanting to shout at the screen things like 'he said to pick up ALL of the item that protects you from the villain, dumbass, not one tiny part of it! GAH!'
In the end, then, Schumacher does a decent job of bringing the story to the screen. Now if only we had two or three rewrites (from someone other than Joel) to tighten the script, clean up sloppy historical references (uh, the swastika was not an ancient Norse symbol...it originates in Asia...and half those runes aren't Nordic either, they're Celtic) and generally make our hero more than a complete imbecile.
Is it worth a watch? The fantastic villain makes this worth a rental, or a view on cable. In this case, Lionsgate made exactly the right decision and only released this as much as they were probably required to by contract.
2 out of 5
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