It’s not going to make the Academy Award producers give a 2nd thought to how they treat horror films, but Blood Creek (the latest victim of Lionsgate’s seeming hatred for any horror movies that don’t star a guy named Jigsaw), is an enjoyable, marginally original, and fast-paced tale, with a franchise-ready villain and some truly entertaining setpieces. Add to that a setup for a sequel that doesn’t feel shoe-horned in (and actually suggests a wider-reaching and potentially more interesting followup), and you have a film that deserves far better than the treatment it has received (like Midnight Meat Train, the Gate has dumped the film into dollar theaters, lacking any marketing material or even a publicized release date).
The plot is much cooler than I was led to believe (slight spoilers here). Seems there are nine keystones that hold supernatural power (all of which are located in farms in or around Virginia), and Hitler sent out guys to investigate them during the height of his power. Our villain is one of those guys, who (70 years later) is still trapped on the farm he was assigned to investigate – but free to kill whoever happens by. It’s not really Nazi heavy – all references to Hitler, Third Reich, etc are pretty much just limited to the first and final scenes, but it’s an interesting and unique backdrop for a horror movie, one I am surprised isn’t used more often. First of all, Hitler REALLY DID delve into the occult, which should lay the groundwork for a hundred movies. Secondly – what could be more terrifying than an immortal Nazi (especially this particular one, who is about seven feet tall, has superpowers, and looks like a Cenobite)?
It does start off a bit troublesome though, with a frenetic pace that seemed to suggest studio re-editing (no time for character development, go, go, go!), but as soon as the villain is fully unleashed around the halfway mark, it’s top notch entertainment. You get the legit scares and suspense (the villain can resurrect people and put them under his control) and laugh out loud nonsense (he can do the same for horses), but either way the film is entertaining; and the frenetic pace that was originally annoying plays to its benefit. Even during the obligatory exposition scenes, there is still urgency to them – the film never really slows down.
This does cause some problems though. One is that we never really get to know Henry Cavill’s character, who drops everything instantly to aid his brother (Dominic Purcell – who is essentially playing his Prison Break character again) who has escaped from the farm after two years and wants instant revenge. We know he feels a bit guilty (Purcell was taken when the two of them were on a fishing trip), but that’s about the extent of his character development. Maybe BECAUSE of the similarities with Prison Break (one brother risking everything to help the other) it feels like we are getting short-changed. Wentworth Miller’s character always outshined Purcell’s on Break, so I think I was expecting Cavill to similarly take charge.
The other problem is with those exposition scenes. Our sympathetic female lead (Emma Booth) explains why the Nazi guy is trapped there, why they have been torturing people, etc – but she says it so fast (and while the place is under attack) that I actually missed some of what she was saying (the budget theater’s terrible sound system didn’t help). Because of that, you might find the movie full of plot holes, as this one line explains why she and her family have been feeding people to the guy, despite the fact that they are seemingly trying to destroy him. In short – pay attention, or if you’re watching this on DVD (likely) maybe use the subtitles or your rewind button to make sure you got everything.
I was surprised how dark the film was. The film was directed by Joel Schumacher, who managed to turn Burton’s version of Gotham into a glorified Las Vegas (he probably would have made Batman’s costume pink and green if he could). The whole movie takes place at night, but even the interior scenes (with source lighting) feel like they have been underexposed. Maybe he took all of the Batman criticism to heart and has decided to go in the complete opposite direction. Lighting aside, it’s a surprisingly low-key, un-showy directorial effort from this once A-list, big budget/high concept director. I thoroughly dislike most of his films (Phantom of the Opera, his Batman entries, 8MM, hell he even made Bad Company, one of the few Bruckheimer films I never wanted to re-watch), so it’s ironic that this, a film that’s release wasn’t even reported on BoxOfficeMojo, is actually one of his best films (by default), doubly so when you consider that you’d probably never guess he had anything to do with it.
I really wonder why Lionsgate didn’t at least put this into one of the slots for the next After Dark festival. Maybe it’s not as marketable as Saw (now that “Prison Break” is off the air it can’t even boast a “star”), but it deserves at least some semblance of a real release, with an actual marketing campaign and such. But then again, maybe because of the way it was tossed out into the world, my expectations were far lower than they would be had it gotten a regular release. In the end, it’s a solid B-movie that will have to struggle to find its audience on DVD, where it will be lost among the hundreds of shitty horror movies that deserved their fate. But hey, look on the bright side – there will be 5 more Tyler Perry movies from now until the next one they dump (Daybreakers, perhaps?). Yay?
Read BC’s “uncut” review on Horror Movie A Day!