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Blood Creek (2008)

DVD Cover (Lions Gate)
Director:
Joel Schumacher Joel Schumacher
Starring:
Henry Cavill Henry Cavill
Dominic Purcell Dominic Purcell
Emma Booth Emma Booth
Michael Fassbender Michael Fassbender
Rainer Winkelvoss Rainer Winkelvoss

5.4 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres: Horror, Naziploitation, Supernatural Horror
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Review by Crispy
Added: March 17, 2010
Judging by the trailer, what we have here is a slasher movie about an occultist Nazi vampire terrorizing a small farm with the use of black magic, bare handed brutality, and undead minions. How could this possibly go wrong? Potential answer: directed and partially written by Joel Schumacher. With this in mind, I was fully aware that this could go either way, despite how amazing that trailer was.

In 1936, in West Virginia, the Wollner family, who has immigrated from Germany, receives a letter from the Nazi party. They would like them to house a historian named Richard Wirth who has business in the states, for substantial monetary compensation, of course. When he gets there, his intentions are quickly shown to be much more mysterious, as he shows great interest in the runestone in the basement and has the ability to bring a dead bird back to life. Jump to present day, and Evan Marshall's life basically sucks. He works fifteen hour shifts as an EMT, and spends what little free time he has tending to his abusive, Alzheimer-stricken father and being a father figure to his brother's two kids after he was abducted on a fishing trip two years ago. One night, his brother, Victor, suddenly reappears out of the blue, looking quite the worse for wear. He asks his brother to immediately get the boat and the guns, and accompany him upriver without telling anyone that he's back. Obviously, he has revenge on his mind. They eventually come across a familiar farm house, where the two take the Wollners hostage and rescue a tortured man from a nearby trailer. Throughout the entire siege, Victor has been demanding to know "where he is", and he gets his answer when he inadvertently breaks the door to the fruit cellar. A significantly more demonic Wirth emerges, and Marshall and Wollner suddenly find themselves barred inside the house, which is protected by runes painted on the doors and windows. Liese Wollner explains that Wirth has frozen them in time and he's on the hunt for human blood to complete the ritual he started so long ago. And even though he can't enter the house, his reanimated corpses have no such issues.

Hapless victims fighting for survival while trapped inside a house has certainly proven it can work in horror. In fact, I'm sure I could link every word in that sentence to a different movie that did it effectively. Well, Joel Schumacher did not do it effectively with Blood Creek. You see, the key to making that work is to convey the claustrophobia inherit in the situation. It's how a movie about people trapped in a car has gotten as many good reviews as it has. Schumacher does not capture this claustrophobia. Instead, he's utilized an almost action movie pace, and the focus is on scenes like zombie horses breaking through the windows; which isn't necessarily a bad decision in and of itself. On the contrary actually, this horse going buck wild in the kitchen and taking gunshot after gunshot was a damned fine scene. Unfortunately, it was kind of ruined by some seriously shoddy special effects. The blood was obviously computer generated, and while I've seen much worse, it was still pretty bad. The true coup de grace was the CGI flames, which did not look a thing like actual fire. Similarly, there's a scene where Wirth starts ripping the skin off of his face done with CGI that looks nothing short of horrible. Latex and puppetry would have looked leagues better than the computer did. Sure, I realize that actually setting a horse's head on fire may not exactly be a feasible option, but that's no reason to half ass the effects.

For all the problems the film does have, the assembled group of actors was not one of them. Evan and Victor was handled by Henry Cavill and Dominic Purcell respectively. Cavill garnered no complaints, but he was handedly outshone by Purcell, who I could see going on to become a well known action star. Likewise, our most heavily featured Wollner, daughter Liese, was played by Emma Booth and she also put on a more than acceptable performance. Granted, trying to pass the 28 year old Booth as a 17 year old was an absolutely ridiculous decision, but that's Schumacher's dropped ball, not hers. Richard Wirth didn't have much of a speaking role, but Michael Fassbender (who ironically played a member of the English army in Inglorious Basterds) played the role to perfection. Even though a bigger build certainly wouldn't have hurt, he was still a thoroughly intimidating character, even in the 1936 flashbacks. The only thing that bothered me was the echo effect they added to his voice; it would have been much better if they had stuck to the raspy whispering he used while reanimating various corpses, but again, that finger is pointed at the powers that be.

As I alluded to above, the plot moves along at a breakneck pace, which keeps things moving, but doesn't give enough time to explain what's really going on with this cursed family and their unwanted houseguest. In fact, it just creates a multitude of plotholes that really weighs things down. Normally, I have absolutely no problem ignoring them in these types of movies. For example, they display the Swastika as being from Norse origin, when it's common knowledge that it's an Asian symbol. It's completely wrong, but nothing more than a slight annoyance for the more OCD of its viewers and no severe harm is done. However, the ones I'm referring to were so large you could drive a Panzer through them, and it derails the whole affair. They happen pretty late in the film, so while I hate to talk about them, they affected my opinion of the movie so much that I can't just gloss over them. If you're worried about spoilers, go ahead and skip this paragraph. Anyway, it's explained that Wirth was getting his supply of blood from the family to sustain him and fuel his rituals. In order to protect themselves, they locked him in the fruit cellar, started kidnapping people, and would release him at night to feed on just enough blood before locking him up again for the previous day. How about, oh I don't know, just leaving him locked in there? Why are you feeding him at all? Just let him starve. With such an obvious option available, this revelation really knocked the whole movie on its ass. My suspension of disbelief is one of the strongest you'll ever come across, but even I absolutely refused to swallow such an inane plot point. A significantly more minor plothole comes after the new victim bites it. When Wirth reanimates him, he keeps his identity intact long enough to ask to be locked up. How is he able to do that when the other guy immediately jumps up and attacks his family seconds after being stabbed? Doesn't matter. There was too much between him dying and when he was needed later, and they have to think of something to occupy his time until then. And speaking of, why would you lock him up and not just kill him outright? When you're entering the realm of the occult and rituals like this, you're going to need some decent meat on that plot to move things along without running the whole ordeal into a pit. "Just because" may work in the Jason movies, but not in this one; certainly not to that extreme.

Turns out I was 100% warranted in questioning Blood Creek due to Schumacher's involvement. The potential to be great was there, damn was it there, but all those plotholes and crappy CGI ultimately killed it for me. Still, Wirth himself is quite the villain, and there's enough carnage to keep things entertaining enough. Might be worth a Netflix slot or catching on cable, but I doubt it'll find a permanent home on too many living room shelves. 6/10.
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Greg Follender #1: Greg Follender - added 03/19/2010, 02:12 AM
Holy Crap!
Just saw this tonight with a buddy... and your review couldn't have been more spot-on!
What a total waste of potential!!!

All you have to do is listen to the Director commentary and the problem this film had possibly escaping mediocrity is clearly explained... at some points, Schumacher unapologetically can't even remember where he got the source material for some of the sets and background information for the story! He comes off like a drunk queen dishing dirt on some drag show he can't clearly remember from his drug hazed past... (no disrespect intended to any of our gay readers... this is simply how it sounded to me) He simply glad-handed his actors and can barely keep himself relevant to the action occurring onscreen. It's actually painful to listen to... but it truly explains a lot.

How this man continues to get work in Hollywood amazes me... he must have someone to do his pitch work for him, because he comes off like a scatterbrained dolt hardly worthy of the attention he demands.

Nice work by Fassbender as Wirth... especially so in the flashback sequences.

A potentially interesting piece of horror... completely RUINED by substandard direction. BOY... you really aren't exaggerating about the plot-holes in this film... they are so glaring that they utterly subtract from the experience as a whole and even make the slipshod CG effects almost tolerable by comparison.

Ouch... what a waste.
I just wish that I could UNSEE it.

5/10 for a cool premise utterly wasted by an unfit director.
bluemeanie #2: bluemeanie - added 05/14/2010, 12:09 PM
Michael Fassbender = Wasted. 5/10.
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