This trio of films offers some familiar (and some cute) faces and favorite subgenres, but is that enough to make them worth a watch?
DARK HOUSE (2014)
Had this one on my “must-see” list for a while because a) delicious Zack Ward is in it and b) it has the same title as this 2009 film, and I have a weird obsession with seeing movies with the same title. Well, as I started to write this blog and was looking up some details on imdb, I discovered this Dark House is directed by Jeepers Creepers pedophile Victor Salva. It’s astounding to me that not only does he still have a directing career, but that well-known people actually appear in his movies.
For someone who usually makes pretty straightforward films, the pedophile was all over the place with this one.
After his mom burns to death in a loony bin, a young guy who can see how people are going to die by touching them inherits a house that he never knew existed but has been drawing since he was a kid. So he takes his buddy and a girl he meets in a bar and knocks up to go check the place out.
They stop at a diner and meet the lady from Jeepers Creepers and a couple of locals who tell them the place was washed away in a flood. Zack Ward is one of a trio of land surveyors that help them find it in the middle of the woods.
Jigsaw himself Tobin Bell comes out and warns them to leave, then a stampede of creepy as hell hunched over guys with long hair, long coats, and axes come running after them.
The axe freaks are the scariest part of the film and are completely underutilized as the plot takes off into a whole realm of confusing backstory and subplots. The group goes for help but the town appears empty to them—even though the people in town are actually there and can see them. The group tries to leave the town but ends up right back at the house. There’s something in the walls.
Those axe freaks don’t move if you don’t open the door to the basement, so there’s a segment that rips off the nurse scene from Silent Hill. The main guy’s dead dad talks to him through a vent in the house. The main guy’s dead dad talks to numerous people through various vents in various buildings in various locations all over during the course of the film.
I’m not sure what was spinning faster—the plot as it spiraled out of control, or my eyes as they rolled continuously at the absurdity of it all. I did appreciate a couple of the twists at the end, but honestly, I couldn’t get past the fact that this was a movie about an evil vent ghost dad.
CREATURE LAKE (2015)
Movies should really come with an “FF” warning label on them: found footage. I was prepared for a cheesy piece of SyFy CGI crap based on the title. So imagine my surprise when I’m stuck staring at the ground and leaves as guys walk through the woods. FUCK ME.
But, hey. The guys sing the Musical Youth classic “Pass the Dutchie,” swim in their undies, and show some butt, so already this movie blows away The Blair Witch Project. And I do get my cheesy CGI. Eventually.
But first, the guys act like guys. They’re going to a piece of property one of them inherited. Some Native Americans at a pit stop warn them to stay away, and naturally, their response is very Trumpian. Once they reach their destination, they sleep in sleeping bags outside a tiny little cabin structure. They set up “camp cams,” because you never know when your life might be turning into a found footage film.
They do make fun of the tent scene from Blair Witch, which gives this film more bonus points, but then they sit around the campfire being dickish about women, sexuality, and race, as well as exposing their machismo, fighting, farting, and all around reminding me why I’m so glad I’m gay. Then they hear horrible monster sounds in the woods…and DON’T LOCK THEMSELVES IN THAT LITTLE CABIN THING!
The guys have run-ins with the kind of CGI demon face women you see in every low budget found footage film (oh…), then all of a sudden they’re being chased by normal looking dudes with weapons, and it’s like the supernatural shit never happened. Plus, the acting surprisingly takes a sudden total nosedive.
Eventually there’s a CGI monster, but overall, the combination of low budget and found footage clichés just doesn’t impress.
Bland title included, there isn’t a single thing about this creature feature that isn’t derivative, which is pretty much what makes it so watchable. That and the fact that it plays out like a SyFy movie with a slightly better budget…and a sizzling hot leading man.
In the middle of a desert wilderness, a woman, a man, and his studly nephew run a little camping rehab group for juvenile delinquents. As they head out for a hike with a fresh pack of teen assholes, little do they know a comet has crashed to earth with an alien inside.
This awesome looking alien is all metallic, so bullets don’t hurt it, and it has this long tentacle that latches onto your body and sucks the life out of you, so the first part of the film is pretty suspenseful, even if the characters are absurdly one-dimensional and their plot lines are poorly developed.
But all that doesn’t really matter, because eventually, the film shifts into cheesy Starship Troopers territory as the survivors become our heroes and devise a plan to fight the big bad beast from beyond the stars.
Sure it’s goofy, but the monster looks cool, the effects are way better than the majority of SyFy crap I devour daily, and…did I mention the leading man is sizzling hot?