Blood Creek [Nazi-themed Creature Feature, Horror movie, 2009]

[Contact Me] | [FAQ]

[Some "Dougisms" Defined]

[About Dickens of a Blog]

[Jump to Site Links]

BLOT: (22 Nov 2010 - 01:17:04 PM)

Blood Creek [Nazi-themed Creature Feature, Horror movie, 2009]

It is interesting, to me, that Header, which I just reviewed a few minutes ago, is set in pretty much the exact same place as this movie. My Header commentary had a bit of a discussion of the mythical "more South than South" setting, even when the setting isn't precisely the South itself (for instance, Children of the Corn taps into the same thing even though it is set in the Midwest). You might want to glance a couple of paragraphs in to see some commentary that slightly impacts this movie, though in this case, it is explained narratively, outside of the early but not opening scenes involving the meth-lab trailer park...

Now, on to this movie proper. Blood Creek, once called Town Creek apparently, is mostly the story of two brothers trying to right a wrong done to one of them. Victor Marshall disappeared during a camping/fishing trip that he and his younger brother Evan went on two years ago. Now Victor is back, and asks Evan to come along with him with guns and ammo to take care of business. Evan is torn between wanting to know what is up, and between making up for two years of being chastised for "losing" his older brother. This is our primary drive: the question of masculinity contrasted in Evan's calmer, more inspective and medically trained manhood against Victor's military background and wild, impetuous actions. It turns out that Victor was the victim of a farmhouse in Maryland, not too far from where he was lost in the woods (kidnapped, I suppose). The family there has a secret, a "He", that Victor is searching for. All Evan sees is a ragtag family living in a rundown farmhouse with strange markings on the gates and on the doors and windows. What the audience knows is that in 1936, a Nazi occult scientist came there, looking for mythical rune-stones left by "our Viking ancestors" (the family is German, and thought the scientist was a historian research German ex-pats). Though the outcome of the family is unknown, the opening cuts away after he tells the young girl, Liese, that her little pains will go a long way to helping her family and we hear, but do not see why, her screams.

We soon learn that the family in the farmhouse is not only the family in 1936, but is the family: only about five years older than they were then. The "He" is no longer human in any real sense of the word, now is a strange thing wearing a long coat, snarling like a beast, and with some sort of black mask wrapped around his face, kept locked up in a root cellar. The farmhouse's many glyphs keep the evil contained in a tiny space, and the whole premise rotates on the albatross wrapped around everyone's neck and who or what is actually evil.

The movie uses the delayed narrative technique to extend suspense: though nearly everything is known by key and otherwise quite vocal characters from the start of the movie proper, they take time to talk about it. Even when, say, one of the characters (mostly Evan) asks. Again and again. It is a frustratingly fake technique that only works if handled properly, and here it is not, only explained by the inexplicable nature of the creature on the farm. Maybe they were trying to give Evan some time to witness some things for himself so that he does not immediately disbelieve, or maybe the movie's makers realized that suspense and confusion could be tools to keep the audience going, which begs one big question: why did they start the movie off where they did? It starts out kind of in-flow (ignoring the monochromatic opening set in the past), and is played off as a second-act to a long horror movie as soon as Victor shows back in less than a quarter hour into the movie-main. The makers ellide the opening act, Victor's capture and torture at the hands of the family, and get down to brass-tacks, only they then feel the need to drag the plot. It tries to inverts the traditional horror movie pattern—something outside finds something inside, horror develops, secrets are indulged, horror unfolds—by starting us in the midst of a second cycle. It could have been a narrative kick, but instead, Joel Schumacher (director, The Lost Boys) and David Kajganich (writer, The Invasion) ignore their own device and let it settle back into a first cycle premise, which gives the whole thing a false sense of tautness. A stretched rubber band that plays an off-chord when suddenly, the night the brothers are there becomes the night to be reckoned with.

As creature-features go, it at least plays by the basic rules: the creature has certain strengths and weaknesses and the plot is a solving of their puzzle. Except one of the characters is the central fount of knowledge, making her a lithe Teutonic ex-pat version of Van Helsing, and casting the whole thing in something like a retelling of Dracula, including blood consumption and undead minions. Breaking no ground, the movie merely pulls the audience along in a dance as simple as it is old, and therefore on the cusp of effectiveness. We know the old stories of ancient evils wearing semi-new faces and fighting in a world that disbelieves them. As horror fans, we enjoy them. On this level, the only real drawback to the whole thing is that the CG gore that in one equine-centric scene devolves into what deleted scenes look like before the final touch-ups, and the aforementioned false tautness in the plot. You can fully enjoy this as the story of a small band of fighters taking on something they have no hope of beating. This is how you should watch it if you want to play along.

It should also be pointed out that had this movie been made in the 1970s, one might have been more forgiving for the double whammy of barely hidden Swastika imagery in the runestones (one is the prime rune symbol itself, the other gets exposed later in plot). It is not so much that a Swastika is used, the Vikings did use them, presumably as funerary symbols linked to Thor; but the pre-Nazi idea of the Swastika as representative of the turning of life, and the holy concept of living strength, is overshadowed by the inherent Nazi corruption now associated with it. It is as though the symbol was retconned to suggest that all those people who used it represent the purity of life really meant black magic by it, so the Nazis were right in corrupting it. And sure, the idea can just as easily be that the Nazis in corrupting the meaning of the symbol also corrupt what the symbols mystical power might be, but without any proper narrative to handle this, the Occam's Razor leaves us with the "real Swastika" firmly tucked into the horror movie device explanation.

The final package wraps itself up partially, and kind of finishes out implying that is only the second act in a five act tragedy, and for that I appreciate it more had it merely ended with self-congratulations and fair-monster-hunting to you, too, rhetoric. I am sure the other three acts are forever lost, and hopefully they will stay that way. It is best to wonder what may be, rather than showing it to us and dashing all hopes...

Basically, a potentially Good, but not Great, movie with so many mis-beats and false notes that it ends up with a final score of Meh. This is one prime candidate for a later remake, solving out some of the questions of rune magic, the interim time between the one brother's capture and his escape, and a better balancing of what the creature might mean. Also, drop the second Swastika reveal. That's just silly.

LABEL(s): Horror movies

BY WEEK: 2010, Week 47
BY MONTH: November 2010

Written by Doug Bolden

For those wishing to get in touch, you can contact me in a number of ways

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

The longer, fuller version of this text can be found on my FAQ: "Can I Use Something I Found on the Site?".

"The hidden is greater than the seen."