Sunday, January 31, 2010

Blood Creek (2009)

aka Town Creek

About two years ago, Victor (Dominic Purcell), the Iraq vet brother of paramedic Evan Marshall (Henry Cavill) disappeared during a joint camping trip, leaving his brother guilt-ridden and desperate.

One day, a wildly bearded Victor appears in his brother's trailer, asks him to pack guns and provisions for a two day trip and help him "end something". For no good reason, Evan agrees.

Victor leads him to a farm not that far out in the boons and starts to kill its inhabitants without any hesitation. Evan is not completely on board with committing a massacre, leading to the survival of an older woman (Joy McBrinn) and her daughter Liese (Emma Booth, playing someone who is supposed to look like seventeen and just doesn't).

Turns out that Victor has good reason for hating them, though. The family used him to feed the immortal Nazi occultist Wirth (Michael Fassbender) who came to do evil occultist stuff with a runestone situated on their farm (something to do with opening his third eye) some time during the 30s. While preparing his own immortality Wirth also made the family for no reason I could discern. For his troubles, they locked him away in a cellar secured with magical symbols and only let him out at feeding time. The family didn't really mean any harm with their murdering ways, you see, they feed Wirth only to contain him and hinder him from taking over the world with his awesome powers of waking the dead and looking really silly.

Alas, the good doctor does not like it at all when his dinner is late, breaks out and makes the brothers' evenings a bit more exciting than they probably hoped for with his zombie horses, zombie people and various attempts to drink their blood.

Being directed by Joel Schumacher, this is of course a total mess of a film, but it's a mess that's nice to look at and neither uninteresting nor boring. Again and again, you can see the outline of a really riveting occult horror film behind the silliness of zombie horses, magical bone armor and people acting unlike people. Schumacher wastes some pulpy but neat ideas about rune magic and a theoretically fantastic villain (an immortal Nazi occultist who reminds me of a hyperactive version of Fulci's Dr.Freudstein should be impressive and not this silly) on a film that does not take the necessary time to build the mood or character to make them work. Instead, he just goes for a fast-paced "one damn thing after another" tale that would have worked a lot better done in a slow Italian style, given that everything else about it just screams "Italy 1980".

If you're able to stop thinking about the film's obvious lack of internal logic and can stomach its moral ("killing people for a good cause is a-ok") it can be rather exciting, at least until the next bit of idiocy stops it dead in its tracks again, but then you can have a good laugh.

The Internet - as we know always right - tells me that there is a good reason for the film being as excitingly nonsensical as it is. Schumacher seems to have had some kind of falling out with the film's scriptwriter David Kajganich (ironically also the unlucky guy theoretically responsible for the script to Oliver Hirschbiegel's equally unlucky The Invasion), ending with Schumacher re-writing parts or even large parts of the script, and (at least that's my theory) banishing any hope for a moody and intelligent film to the place where the mood and intelligence his other films should have had are hidden away.

On the visual side, there's not as much to complain about. Schumacher mostly goes for something workmanlike and professional here, far from the excesses he seems to love so much.

The effects work and design is a whole different thing again. There are some very iffy digital effects on display, and worse, the main monster Wirth looks silly where he should be menacing, dressed up like a Matrix reject with bad skin and a German accent.

Still, I can't say I don't like Blood Creek. While it is not the effective horror film it could be, it is an entertaining piece of trash, a classical b-picture made by a classical mercenary director whose ego too always gets into the way of his talent. Plus, you know, zombie horses.


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