Director – Joel Schumacher
Cast – Henry Cavill, Dominic Purcell, Emma Booth, Michael Fassbender, Rainer Winkelvoss, László Mátray, Joy McBrinn, Shea Whigham, Tony Barger
Release Year – 2009
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I first came across this film a few years ago, but its very poor marketing at the hands of Lions Gate played a part in why I absolutely forgot about this DTV watch until recently. You would think that with veteran filmmaker Joel Schumacher at the directing helm that this flick would have received a bit more attention, but Lions Gate’s fascination with only things Jigsaw related (as of late) forced this to suffer the same ill fate that The Midnight Meat Train did, except it actually was given the courtesy of a dollar theater release. Why the hate for Lions Gate over its treatment of Blood Creek, well, that is because this is a damn good horror film.
In the 1930s a small West Virginia household found themselves elated that the Third Reich would entrust them with caring for one of their finest historians, Richard Wirth(Michael Fassbender; Inglourious Basterds), however this proved an ill-fated move for the family with the Nazi’s strong obsession with the occult and Nordic treasures. Fast forward to present time and we follow Evan Marshall(Henry Cavill), a young paramedic still suffering the psychological trauma of his brother’s disappearance during a late-night fishing trip several years prior. Late one night Evan is awoken in shock and amazement by none other than his long-lost brother, Victor(Dominic Purcell; Blade Trinity), but the joys of their reunion are short-lived when Victor recruits his brother to follow him, guns in tow, to the very hellhole he was held captive in for over two years. The mission is simple: revenge. However, the brothers soon find themselves in a battle with a long-buried supernatural force inhabiting the very qualities Hitler himself sought and failed to attain.
The storyline was the biggest reason behind my enjoyment of this film, as I not only love unique storylines but ones that involve the Nazi’s fascination with the occult. The historical aspects of the film are not very historically accurate, but this is a film of fiction, so only pretentious history purists should find fault with the story’s originality.
Writer David Kajganich’s story takes off with a fair amount of background regarding the old West Virginian town’s history with the Nazis and their search for the rune stones discovered in the town many years prior. It is here that we are exposed to part of the reasoning behind their search for the rune stones, which has to do with the ability to resurrect the dead of all shapes and sizes. Once the opening sequence is done with we are thrown into the solemn world that Evan lives in, with his dementia-ridden father blaming him for the disappearance or “death” of his brother, who served his country while Evan stayed to care for his father, which his father of course fails to realize. Evan is constantly reminded of the strong effect the loss of his brother had on his family every time that he is confronted by his two young nephews and his sister-in law. He has taken a role of responsibility regarding the kids, mostly out of regret over what happened to his brother, making nearly all of Evan’s life a constant reminder of his failure to save his brother from whatever horror grabbed a hold of him. I had not come across much regarding the film’s story, so I was quite elated to when Evan’s “dead” brother Vincent came calling in the middle of the night, which was a required yet nonetheless positive development that aided the story and began the awesomeness that never relented from then on out.
If you know me then you know that I love revenge elements in horror films, and the revenge element in this one was enjoyable as ever. After being bound and tortured for two years, Vincent and his brother Evan made their way to the secluded farmhouse Vincent was kept at to wage war against his captors, which was great to watch given the two brothers were finally united and fighting in the name of Vincent and what he suffered. After kicking some ass we are exposed to some interesting developments involving the farming family, and several twists and turns commence that eventually bring out the true perpetrator of the ordeal, the very Nazi historian who made his way to the town over 70 years prior, Richard Wirth. I loved that the film switched antagonists from the farmers to the occult-powered Nazi, as it was not only a clever development but it also in a sense switched the farmers from antagonists to victims, although “victim” will be left up to your interpretation given the horrible things they had to do to keep the Nazi beast appeased. The usage of this antagonist was great, and his usage of the supernatural to do his evil-bidding was made unique thanks to some clever albeit silly ideas. He harbors the ability to re-animate any organic object into a bloodthirsty killer that he can command, and this resulted in one of the zaniest scenes I have come across in a long time, a scene involving a re-animated horse chomping a man’s shoulder and dragging him out of the farmer’s home. I can honestly say that I have never seen a scene such as that in the horror genre, and thanks to positive writing it did not come off as silly as it sounds. The final sequences of the film are action packed and involve much cool occult elements, including one involving Wirth’s seeking of a “third eye” on his forehead, and we are left with a climax that leaves a possibility for sequels, however in a perfect world I would say that this story is through. The screenplay paced very well thanks to each of the numerous developments coming at just the right time, however some potential faults that I came across included a lack of character development. We are given little insight into Vincent, and more but not enough insight into Evan, however this being a fast-paced 90 minute horror film I did not find that too much of a problem given I did not take much notice to the lack of character development until the film was done. If I was entertained enough to not care for character development and came out of this experience with a smile on my face then I can forgive the film’s writers for that. I say writers in plural form because according to filmmakers there was a falling out between Schumacher and writer David Kajganich over changes Schumacher wanted, and much like what happened between him and Andrew Kevin Walker(Se7en) in 8mm, Schumacher found himself writing the changes in the script.
Director Joel Schumacher(The Lost Boys, Flatliners) did a great job executing this film, with great sets and superb camerawork that showed the guy still has what it takes to deliver some good action, and I am glad that he used the horror genre to show it. His execution of the horror was positive, although this film was never really “scary” in my opinion, just darn cool thanks to the subject material and the carnage going on before me. We get some CGI here and there, mostly resulting from the usage of the killer horses, and for a low-budget film I found the CGI to be fair and much better than what we get on the Sci-Fi channel. The live-action FX are great, and I loved the look of Wirth after acquiring power from the blood of his victims for almost ¾ of a century. We get a fair amount of gore and sweet kills, some of which came via CGI, but nonetheless the carnage was delivered and with horrific results. The performances given are great, with Henry Cavill and Dominic Purcell coming off as a more serious Sam and Dean ala “Supernatural”, and Michael Fassbender being his usual awesome self.
Overall, Blood Creek is a great horror film that gives us a unique story for modern day horror dealing with the Nazi obsession with the occult and the vengeance two long-separated brothers exact on the evil being responsible for their pains. Great performances abound, and Schumacher makes the most of this low-budget effort with fantastic execution and non-stop action in this underrated and truly under-appreciated(damn you Lions Gate!) horror film from a director long gone from the genre, but one that I gladly welcome back.