Who needs a mask when your face is scary as shit? I take a look at three killer flix from the first decade of the new millennium.
SHALLOW GROUND (2004)
Director Sheldon Wilson (Scarecrow, The Hollow, The Night Before Halloween, Carny) delivers a film with a chilling premise that is also a fresh approach to the backwoods slasher genre. It just takes way too long to actually go anywhere.
At a defunct police station in the middle of the woods, the cops are packing up when in walks a naked kid, drenched in blood and carrying a knife. One of the cops becomes convinced his own lady was killed by this kid a year before, so he goes out to see if he can pick up clues in the woods (when he’s not having nightmares while shirtless).
Meanwhile, the other cops spend most of the movie freaking out over the weird supernatural occurrences that seem to take place while they have the kid handcuffed. The kid’s creepy behavior starts to lose its potency as nothing happens, so by the time the thrills and twist do come, they can’t completely rescue the film.
The twist is also extremely disorienting because it packs a whole lot of backstory that simply wasn’t developed enough throughout the course of the film. However, I really did like the final act, which has somewhat of a classic slasher throwback feel (complete with a dinner party of the dead scene), a wickedly gory kill, and that fresh premise to elevate it above the usual backwoods slasher clichés.
But then, Shallow Ground shoots itself in the foot—the demon thing that is suddenly introduced for the final frame is freakier than the naked bloody kid could ever be.
As low budget as this film is, I think the director could have done something with it (at least the final act) with more money.
The opening kill scene looks super low budget, but once we get to the “10 years later” part, it begins to feel like a standard slasher, with a bunch of stupid kids sneaking into the place where all the murders took place.
When they first encounter some bald dude with a sledgehammer, a plot unravels of Nazis, hidden gold, and splitting the money if they agree to work together, which made me lose interest for quite a while.
But finally, Monstrosity shows his face, and although he basically goes around growling at people while wearing cheap makeup you’d see in a haunted house attraction, the horror action gets pretty dang good, with chases, a macabre setting, and some twists along the way.
Lots of potential for fans of this type of slasher (like me), but as I said…the film needed a budget and a bit of a reworking. Keep an eye out for John Dugan – grandpa in the original Texas Chainsaw – as a sheriff.
BLOOD CREEK (2009)
Joel Schumacher of The Lost Boys and Flatliners fame directs a film that has an awesome baddie, the hotness of Dominic Purcell, Henry Cavill, and Michael Fassbender, and some good, gory kills, but is essentially nothing more than a higher quality SyFy movie.
After a whole period piece/Nazi/Hitler/occult intro, we are projected to the present…which still looks like a period piece. Purcell and Cavill are brothers right out of the Old West, and they go to seek revenge on a family that apparently kidnapped Purcell for a while. There’s a shootout at a farmhouse, and then they release another guy being held captive in the family’s basement.
Now, if I were this family, I probably would have stopped shooting long enough to tell these two that the dude in the basement is actually a supernatural entity they are keeping held captive and that releasing him could be catastrophic.
Cue the catastrophe. This supernatural entity takes on the form of a guy with a zombie-like head and a leather coat. And he needs to eat flesh to rejuvenate, which makes for some pretty cool special effects as the brothers and the family try to keep him from getting in the house for the remainder of the movie. Things unfold as you’d probably expect, with some awesome kills and a shirtless Cavill, but little in the way of scares.