STUDIO: Lion’s Gate
RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes
• Director’s Commentary
You like Nazis? You like the occult? You like Viking rune stones? You like farms?! Ay, fuggedaboudit!
Henry Cavill, Dominic Purcell, Michael Fassbender, Emma Booth
Directed by Joel Schumacher. Yes, that Joel Schumacher.
When Evan’s brother Victor suddenly returns after having mysteriously disappeared two years prior, Victor leads Evan back to a secluded farm run by German immigrants where Victor had been held prisoner for creepy reasons relating to a creepy Nazi scholar who visited the farm in the 1930’s. A Nazi scholar who is still alive today! Demonic shenanigans unfold!
Remember that band Third Eye Blind? Me neither.
Joel Schumacher has had a bizarre career, man. Bizarre. In the 70’s he wrote African American cult films like Carwash and The Wiz, in the 80’s he moved into honkyfest Brat Pack territory with St Elmo’s Fire, Lost Boys and Flatliners, in the 90’s he shifted into B-grade dramatic thrillers with Falling Down, The Client and A Time To Kill, before finally earning the bile of film fans everywhere by nipple-suiting the Batman franchise. Since then his career has had the random hodgepodge feeling of a filmmaker who is simply going wherever the opportunities lie. So, I guess it shouldn’t be a total shock to find him making a film like Blood Creek. Yet I still did a double take when I saw his name in the credits.
I’m not a huge Schumacher fan, but I’m happy he wound up on this weird little flic. And yes, Blood Creek is a weird fucking movie. It doesn’t easily slip into a category. Which, depending on your taste in horror, I think is one of the best compliments I can give it. It is not a great movie, but it is interesting.
The film opens in 1939 on a small West Virginian farm run by a family of recent German immigrants. (For those fuzzy on history, Germany had begun its assault on neighboring countries, but WWII had not yet sprung to full life.) Strapped for cash, the family has warily agreed to house a visiting Nazi scholar, Wirth (Inglourious Basterds amazing Michael Fassbender), interested in studying a Viking rune stone the family dug up. Wirth, we quickly learn, is interested in the rune stone for occult purposes. And as we all know, Nazis and the occult are a bad mix.
Then we jump forward to the present where we meet our hero, Evan Marshall (The Tudors’ Henry Cavill). Evan is a paramedic and a guilt-stricken mess. Two years ago he went fishing with his Iraq vet brother, Victor (Prison Break’s Capt. Thickneck, I mean Dominic Purcell), who mysteriously disappeared on the trip. Against the wishes of the rest of the family, Evan had a funeral for Victor (they didn’t want to give up hope). Turns out the rest of the fam was right, as Victor suddenly appears one night and demands that Evan come with him to get revenge on the people who held him captive. Also turns out that the people who kidnapped him are the same Germans from the opening – still alive and un-aged! Evan quickly finds himself in over his head when Wirth reappears, now a freaky looking demon, and the two brothers must join forces with the German farmers to stop the Nazi monster before he can finish his fiendish plan.
The opening ten minutes of the film are essentially worth the price of admission (so to speak). Shot in stylistic black and white, the prologue about Wirth’s arrival on the farm has the cool atmospheric vibe of a European film. Fassbender captivates when on camera – the dude belongs in period pieces; he looks like Errol Flynn, for god’s sake! Frankly, I wish the whole movie could’ve been like the prologue. But, alas, prologues must end to give way to the… uh… logue?
The initial character set up of Evan is excellent, letting the details of what happened to Victor trickle out as we watch Evan’s strained relationship with his ailing father and Victor’s ex-wife. Really the entire first third of the film is great. The pacing is relentless, and things just keep getting nuttier as we move along. When Evan and Victor arrive on the farm I didn’t even mind that Evan’s willingness to follow Victor into battle (despite having received no explanation of what was going on) was a bit forced because I was hooked with a genuine sense of “Oo, what’s gonna happen next?!” Briefly the movie becomes a tense thriller, as the two brothers battle with the German farmers, but unfortunately, what should mark the big kicking-it-up-a-notch moment of the film – Wirth reappearing – instead marks the downward slop. The momentum winds to a halt as we transition into a very standard Holding Down the Fort horror film.
Holding Down the Fort movies need internal conflict of some kind to really work (eg, Dawn of the Dead or The Thing), but the Marshall bros quickly resolve their issues with the German farmers and the movie simply becomes about keeping Wirth out of the farmhouse. And keeping Wirth out of the farmhouse is ridiculously easy. The German’s have drawn special occult symbols on all the doors and windows, which Wirth cannot pass. Thus Wirth must demonify dead things (a horse, a dog, some humans) and have them attack in his place. Aside from a fun scene featuring a demon horse, Wirth’s minions are pretty generic. I watched the movie just two days ago and I’m already hard pressed to remember much of anything they did. Even worse is that Wirth ends up a bit emasculated here, forced to skulk around impotently outside while everyone else is battling inside the house. Fassbender, so effective in the opening, feels wasted in monster form. He has a cool look, but that’ll only take you so far, and since a horror movie is only as good as its monster, Wirth isn’t quite pulling his weight.
Story-wise the film keeps sliding down hill from here too. The occult backstory (why the Germans are immortal, what Wirth’s plan is, why they kidnapped Victor) seems to make less sense the more it is explained, and the film seems to be comprised of 60% random running around. The film has a decent cast, but there is almost no character development beyond the first Act. Also, an admittedly minor gripe, but what’s up with the title? Blood Creek? Really? Terrible. It means nothing. The original title was Town Creek. I can see why they changed it, but I feel like they put about 30 seconds of thought into it. “Can’t call it Town Creek. Uh… Death Creek? Killer Creek? Murder Creek? How about Blood Creek? Yeah? Okay, moving on.”
Even with these problems, the movie basically works despite itself, just cause the events are so bonkers and Schumacher’s enough of a pro to keep you interested. Though, like I said at the top, it depends what kind of horror you’re into. This isn’t a sexy titty show. This isn’t gorno. It isn’t a movie about awesome kills (though it does have plenty of death and violence). It is about creeps and thrills. I liked that the film went for something different. It wasn’t a remake or torture porn or a wet-child ghost movie, and while we’ve seen a million movies about the Nazis’ much embellished obsession with the occult, Blood Creek doesn’t feel stale. For horror fans, unless it is simply how you roll, I wouldn’t advise a blind purchase of the film. But I would recommend throwing it on your queue.
The lone feature here is a commentary from Schumacher, in which he spends a huge amount of time recounting details about WWII that everyone already knows (at least I hope so), like Hitler’s desire to create a master race, etc. Though I suppose if you don’t know jack about WWII, it is informative. Anyway, the picture quality is decent, and the menu image is cool (if you get off on that kind of thing). But otherwise not a lot of love went into this DVD.