1/2/12

Blood Creek (2009) Blood Donation Month Begins with Schumacher's Blood Magic Nazi (Nipples Not Included)

Hello folks, and welcome to the first review of 2012. As you may have noticed from the Lair's new duds, I'm celebrating National Blood Donation Month this January. Every movie I talk about this month will either have 'Blood' (or a derivation thereof) in the title or have some other equally sanguine connection, but I'm also going to put my money where my mouth is. Sometime this month I'll be going to donate blood, something I've never done before. The Red Cross appointed January National Blood Donation Month in 1970, and I think it's a great way to start the year by giving a bit of yourself after the gluttony of the holiday season. So along with enjoying a month-long tribute to the ooey-gooey red stuff, I hope that some of you consider heading down to the blood bank and parting with a pint. Now enough of this seriousness. We have a Joel Schumacher movie to talk about today.

Ol' Joel has gotten a pretty bad rep these days, and if I put nipples on Batman, I'd expect to have one myself. It's easy to forget that Schumacher also directed The Lost Boys, Flatliners, and, my personal favorite, Falling Down without an accessory nipple to be found. Even so, I've put off seeing his 2009 return to horror, Blood Creek. However, I was pleasantly surprised by Schumacher's most straight forward foray into the horror genre. Blood Creek stars future Man of Steel Superman Henry Cavill as every-man paramedic Evan Marshall. Evan is haunted by the disappearance of his brother Victor (Prison Break's Dominic Purcell) during a West Virginia camping trip they shared. When Victor unexpectedly returns one night, Evan follows him without question back into the countryside on a quest for revenge. Victor's captors turn out to be prisoners of a greater evil, Richard Wirth (Micheal Fassbender), a blood magic practicing Nazi who has harassed the power of a Nordic rune buried under a barn. With the ability to raise the dead to do his bidding and a desire to develop a third eye during the coming lunar eclipse, Wirth stalks the brothers looking for a final blood sacrifice.

If the plot of Blood Creek sounds convoluted and loaded with mythos, it is to an extent, but, from the first few minutes of the film which introduce how Wirth came to the farm family, the film kicks off and never lets up. While there are several expository scenes to stitch together the suspense and horror sequences, Schumacher keeps the film's pace at a breakneck speed. Even so, the characters still feel fully rounded. Apart from the one or two most minor characters, it seems that the script and actors pulled the material far above the stock slasher material it could have become. The only hindrance to the film's success is some dodgy CGI special effects. Thankfully the worst of these moments doesn't come until the very end of the film. While it left me with a sort of sour taste in my mouth, had it been placed earlier, I surely would have been pulled right out of the film. The greatest benefit that the film has is the base script. While I understand that Schumacher made a number of changes to the screenplay, then called Town Creek by David Kajganich, they seem to have worked out making Blood Creek one of the most successful, original modern slasher films.

The linchpin that the film hangs on is the two main performances. Henry Cavill is an actor I've enjoyed ever since his turn on Showtime's The Tudors. Before I watched Blood Creek, I was a bit hesitant about his casting as Superman in Zack Snyder's Man of Steel. Having seen him in a more action oriented role that also delved into the pathos of his character, I'm really ready to see what he does as the last son of Krypton. Cavill infuses his character in Blood Creek with a real presence played out through subtle actions and a real sense of an internal life. There is an innocence to his character, and it makes for a perfect counterpoint to Fassbender's Nazi Wirth. Fassbender, known for his roles in 300 and X-Men: First Class, is more darkly evil here than I've seen him play before. While he's hidden beneath layers of makeup (and m.i.a. from the proceedings until halfway through the film after the short prologue), he makes a hell of an impression once he gets going. Fassbender makes such a thing as a warlock, Third Reich loving, blood drinking, zombie controlling, serial killer seem utterly believable. These two performances are what really make Blood Creek rise above the level of middling modern horror.

Plus the film is bloody. While there's a bit of CGI grue that brings down the average, there was plenty enough of the sanguine vita being spilled to please my inner gorehound. While there are some rough spots, Blood Creek is a film from a Hollywood director who clearly knows what he's doing, and he had enough sense to leave the nipples out of it. I hope you enjoyed this first post in National Blood Donation Month, and I have lots of interesting titles in store all month long. It should be a bloody good time for all, and hopefully I won't turn into Gene Shalit due to all the half ass wordplay. Well if that happens, you're sure to see my giant mustache here first. So join me back here all January and see what happens.

Bugg Rating

2 comments:

  1. Good call. Odd and unbalanced film that stumbled it's way into my heart. Felt to me like an 80s VHS rental with some talent and a budget behind it. Very WTF-ish.

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  2. I liked this one too and really have no idea why it ended up floating around in DVD purgatory. It's a pretty creative little horror film. I guess Schumacher has such a soiled reputation over the last few years, and yes, his misses are HUGE, but as you point out, he can sometimes make a really good movie!

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