Monday, May 9, 2011

DVD Review: "Blood Creek"

While we had every intention of seeing Thor this past weekend, D and I postponed seeing because a mutual friend was 'unavailable.' Rather than give up spending time together, we decided to spend the evening in with another friend Ritchie, watching films from D's truly vast collection. We watched one movie none of us had seen, and another which only D and myself had seen.

The one none of us had seen was Joel "Batsuit Nipples" Schumacher's 2009 Nazi Sorcerer/Zombie/Vampire/Torture Porn mash-up from writer David Kajganich (The Invasion - pee-yew! - and the scheduled remake of Pet Sematary), Blood Creek. Uncle P has been reading plenty of good and bad things about this movie for a while, and I have to concur. There is plenty of good and bad about it.

The first 15 minutes or so are set in 1936, and filmed in black and white. We meet the Wollners, German immigrants who have settled into farm life in rural West Virginia. Despite Mama's reservations, Papa Wollner jumps at the chance to house a Third Reich scholar (Michael Fassbinder) in exchange for as many marks as the Fuhrer will pay. The guest -- Herr Wirth -- is creepy, to say the least, able to whisper a few ancient syllables in order to bring a bird back to life...

Quickly jumping forward to the present, we meet Evan Marshall (Superman in pre-production, Henry Cavill). Evan's war-hero bother Victor ("Prison Break" alum Dominic Purcell) has been missing for the past two years. Evan's aging father blames him for Victor's disappearance and Evan's guilt is eating him alive. But one night, Victor - filthy, ragged and unshaven - appears in Evan's bedroom, appealing for his help, but warning him that "what happens will change everything, forever." Filial love endures and as Victor showers and shaves, Evan prepares guns, ammo and a boat. Victor leads Evan to the last place he was seen and they set off downstream to a remote compound -- the Wollner farm. Turns out, the barn's foundation was made using a Norwegian rune stone from which Wirth draws power which renders him and the Wollners immortal. Apparently, this is accomplished through ritual blood-letting, explaining the disappearances of several young men in the region over the years. Victor's path for vengeance fuels the slim, but original premise. 

The biggest problem with Blood Creek is that it doesn't really know what kind of movie it wants to be. Is Wirth a zombie, a sorcerer or a vampire? Or all three? Or something else altogether? We're never sure, because the movie never takes the time to tell us. Borrowing from a hundred genre movies including the Indiana Jones trilogy; Sleepy Hollow; The Keep; The Village and any number of better or worse movies, Blood Creek is one of those rare movies that suffers from over-thinking, rather than under-thinking. If nothing else, I must admire Schumacher, who at age 70 has made an almost original Horror movie that almost succeeds as much it fails. He may have put nipples on the Batsuit, but Schumacher remains unafraid to take cinematic chances:

Entertaining, but ultimately silly (we were shouting out MST3K lines well before the halfway mark), Blood Creek at least features some eye-candy from both Purcell and Cavill, though I must admit that I'm not still sold on the young Brit as Kal-El, just yet. It seems to me that everyone involved just tried too hard and the result ended up being somewhere in-between Warlock, Ded Sno and Hostel.  Sadly, Schumacher hides his most talented actor under CGI vestments and bad makeup FX, while ignoring sensible plot points and coherent motivations.  *(One out of Four Stars)

After that, we watched Tobe Hooper's celluloid version of my worst nightmare, The Texas ChainsawMassacre 2, starring Dennis Hopper. Ritchie spent much of this film with her face buried in her arms, which pleased D and I to no end. Sadistic, ain't we?

More, anon.

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