Tuesday, January 25

Some quick thoughts on Blood Creek (2009)

From the back cover: In 1936, the Wollners, a German family living in Town Creek, West Virginia, are contacted by the Third Reich to host a visiting scholar. In need of money, they accept Professor Ricard Wirth (Michael Fassbender) into their home, unaware of the Third Reich's practices in the occult or Wirth's real mission, which will keep the family bound for decades to come. Now, in 2007, after mysteriously disappearing two years ago near Town Creek, Evan Marshall's (Henry Cavill) older brother Victor (Dominic Purcell) suddenly returns, very much alive and having escaped his captors. Evan asks no questions; at his brother's request, he loads their rifles, packs their boat and follows Victor back to Town Creek on a mission of revenge that will test them in every possible way.

Blood Creek could be best described as a combo of Jeepers Creepers (2001), Venom (2005), Tales from the Crypt Presents Demon Knight (1995), and a pinch of Hellraiser (1987) with a light fascist dusting. Much like what I said concerning Marcus Dunstan's The Collector of the same year, this one is "the kind of slick, edgy horror film that has just enough huff to slip into theaters, evaporate quickly, and somehow seem obscure by the time of the DVD release. One of those decent underdogs that will probably be discovered by many on cable or the used disc section."

Okay, Joel Schumacher's only straight-laced horror feature didn't go wide theatrically, but everything else holds true. Except for Clive Barker's classic, Blood Creek shares that same nothing-new yet entertaining vibe the others mentioned above possess. The veteran filmmaker, in his seventh decade of life, crafts a decent moderately-budgeted horror/action piece that's pleasantly unafraid to fly the genre's flag. No more, no less. Grab some popcorn.

Maybe from the mostly topical Nazi angle or rough-around-the-edge quality, Lionsgate decided to unceremoniously dump the film with a sudden limited release. That's a shame, this might have struck a cord with audiences bored with Saw clones, but it's not surprising considering the continued floundering of similar "single-serve" horror features in theaters like Cry_Wolf (2005), Stay Alive (2006), Dead Silence (2007), and the aforementioned Collector. What's most impressive is Schumacher's spirited direction and consistent sense of narrative flow. Blood Creek is constantly moving with an even measure to its unfolding story in a tidy ninety minutes with, of course, a sequel-minded conclusion.

If one had to gripe about problems, the modest budget does show itself at times and finer points of the Nazi demon zombie's origins/methodology/motivations, played by Michael Fassbender in a prep run for Inglourious Basterds, aren't thoroughly explained. Dominic Purcell still looks like "that shaven head dude from Prison Break", yet makes up for his performance in Mike Mendez's underwhelming Gravedancers, and Henry Cavill doesn't seem to be trying as hard as those around him.

Still, you're unlikely to care much once things get going past the synopsis above. Touches like the monstrous family holding Victor captive not seeming so monstrous once Hitler's bloodsucking minion arises, said minion's ability to resurrect dead things to attack the living, and a healthy dose of practical splat effects (complete with squishy sounds) and monster make-up more than compensate for the gaps. No, Blood Creek doesn't change the face of horror, nor does it ever aim to, but it's mindless fun for an evening. May it join the ranks of respectable horror fare done well comprised of a bunch of ideas we've seen before--and that's okay.

Lionsgate's DVD, sorry no stateside Blu-ray release (?!?), features a very strong anamorphic/progressive 2:35.1 widescreen transfer with no edge enhancement, great detail, and obvious signs of grain structure on a dual-layered disc. The Dolby 5.1 track is also quite strong for the "last gen" format. The only substantive extra is a Schumacher commentary track. Video trailers for Gamer, Saw VI, Cabin Fever 2, Train, and ads for Break.com (really?) and Fear.net are tossed in.


Maynard Morrissey said...

can't help it: I adore this film. Don't understand all the hate it gets

Jayson Kennedy said...

Oh, don't get me wrong, I didn't hate it at all and even my criticisms aren't that important when considering how entertaining this was overall. Gladly welcome a sequel.

...do you dare tread upon the staircase?

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