MOVIE REVIEW: DO YOU DARE ENTER BLACK CREEK?
Every year, there is a tidal wave of fans that become filmmakers. The technology, dreams realized with a chance to be part of something macabre and friends who would do anything to be famous. The chance to maybe not only exceed a dream but become a future master of horror. Whether or not that is achieved, it does not take away from those who try and pick up a camera to shoot their story, their nightmare. For a younger generation of filmmakers, the masters of the genre reflect their process as a whole. The pulsing score of John Carpenter. The raw grittiness of perhaps a Wes Craven. Maybe the FX makeup of a Joel Reed or the indie low budget spirit of a Lloyd Kaufmann. No matter who or what drives them to make genre cinema, I believe you should give them their due for trying. Many of the genre releases each year are bare bones horror flicks that offer a basic story, made for nothing, performed by untrained talent and follow a formula troupes bathed in gore… gore… gore. Out now on VOD is an example in BLACK CREEK. Created by Producer and Filmmaker James Crow, his third feature takes us to the Wisconsin country side telling the story of hidden secrets, vengeful spirits and formulaic horror in the indie spirit.
BLACK CREEK opens with a wonderful long shot and monologue setting up the viewer with a series of statements that like tentacles, pulls us towards the conflict surrounding the loss of a parent and coming of age. As we come into the moment, we meet Mike (Chris O’Flying) and Heather (Brianna Shae) who have lost their father during a tragic hunting trip. Dealing with the pain in their own ways, they decide take advantage and head to the cabin with a group of friends for one last time. Planning to mourn but also have typical horror rule breaking but fun activities of sex, drugs, drinking and fighting, we learn that the community around them is holding a dark secret about what has happened to their father and the legend of a demon. Making the trip up to the cabin, the community is rattled with not only the group of teens returning to the cabin, but a series of murders that have been brought out of the dark by the return of the monstrous “Wisconsin Skinwalker.” As the mysterious entity possesses each victim upon death, no one is safe that dares to come to the woods and face this ancient evil.
I am not sure what can be pulled from an indie horror film like BLACK CREEK. Watching this film, you see potential on several levels. The overall concept for the story works. An ancient evil taking revenge on the community around it for keeping a dark secret. It fits the resourceful and bare bones aspects that the cast, crew and Crow create with BLACK CREEK. First, the acting is very raw and unpolished. The cast is the typical cookie cutter group cutting their teeth in genre work. There are moments of humor that seem almost accidental but work. However, the dialogue feels like it was quickly written and is delivered poor. Second, the FX makeup for what it is worth, is fun and raises this film. We see well-constructed surface wounds, low budget horror deaths and decent empty eye sockets. Third, the edit is satisfactory. However, whether this falls on Crow or the editor, there are scenes inserted for the sake of indie, nostalgic horror that takes away from a decent story. Not every movie needs a teen guy taking a teen girl on the upper balcony of the hunting cabin. It feels like it may be a running time challenge. Fourth, the body count is large but not unheard of for a low budget genre flick. One impressive aspect for me in BLACK CREEK, is the twists thrown in on who lives and who dies. The body count makes sense and serves the story well. Fifth, the cinematography at times is a highlight of this film especially with the opening scene. Sixth, the soundtrack reflects an homage to Carpenter and STRANGER THINGS. It is placed to an effective level highlighting the beats well. This ties into the evaluating tension and emotion which feels welcomed especially surrounding Mike and Heather.
A film like BLACK CREEK is worth supporting for the sake of the indie horror spirit and journey that Crow, cast and crew have been on. Are there better films to get behind? Yes. This is what I would call a convention horror film. BLACK CREEK is found on a table at a horror con tapping into “the every” fan who supports, relishes indie genre and is willing to pay for a hard copy of the product. BLACK CREEK shows positive flashes of Brooklyn Ewing (SHE WAS SO PRETTY), Shawn Burkett (DON’T FUCK IN THE WOODS) and Ryan Scott Weber (MARY HORROR Trilogy) among other low budget indie filmmakers. I sit back and wonder, if a seasoned indie director like Crow who has multiple horror shorts and several features would do with resources, a proper cast (instead of friends most likely) and ample production time. It’s sad to say by Crow’s film history, it has not yet happened, or the right person has not given him a chance. None the less, BLACK CREEK has merit, it’s fun, has a decent story and legit horror bones. Check it out right now VOD and watch the trailer.