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Creature (R)


09/15/11
By Amy Diaz adiaz@hippopress.com



Actors who can’t quite make the cut for fare like the recent Shark Night 3D still have a chance to get dismembered and eaten in Creature, a movie that might actually be a prank.

Remember the “got your nose!” joke people used to play on you as a kid? This is like “got your $7.50!” Only when you checked your face you still had your nose, but when this movie ends you will not get your money back.

As the rules of the universe dictate, six young people — three dudes, three gals — are on a road trip that will eventually take them to New Orleans but first requires a day and night of driving and camping in backwoods Louisiana. After the requisite stop at the creepy gas station filled with sketchy locals, this six-pack of fresh meat heads into the woods to find a scary shack that once housed a man who, after some romantic woes, turned into an alligator man.

But, of course.

Because it’s late in the day and some number of the dudes are former military, and therefore tough and strong, the group decides to camp there, in the swamp, in front of the rickety shack. All the better for the sketchy locals, who we learned earlier are Up To Something, to find them.

Only one of the six alligator-bait characters was recognizable to me — Mehcad Brooks, who played Eggs, Tara’s ill-fated boyfriend on True Blood. Perhaps because of that credit and a role on the new TV show Necessary Roughness, he gets to SPOILER ALERT live longer. I hope that show, which is on the USA Network and which I haven’t seen yet, has a future so that maybe poor Eggs doesn’t have to do movies like this any more.

Attractive young people on a camping trip in the woods with some nudity and sexual situations is fairly standard for a movie of this sort. That these aren’t actors setting the world ablaze with their intense, nuanced performances isn’t exactly surprising either. Nor is the written-in-one-night feel of the dialogue. Where this movie truly starts to diverge from the mediocre pack and slide down a muddy hill into a ditch of slimy badness is (1) a subplot about the backwoods tradition of brother-sister marriages and (2) the alligator man.

Point 1 is just icky — it gives a Jerry Springer quality to the whole affair that this low-rent creation didn’t need. It highlights just how fished-out-of-the-bargain-bin the movie you’re watching really is.

Point 2 is a living demonstration of why a guy in a rubber suit isn’t often the villain in movies like this anymore. I know I spend a lot of time complaining about the fakey-fakeness of having everything but Ryan Reynolds’ face be a CGI creation, but now I remember why just gluing foam alligator scales and a straight-from-the-mall mask on your Big Bad isn’t such a great idea either. Alligator man, shot mostly in shadow because I’m guessing a whole suit isn’t something they had room for in the budget, was a jolting reminder that I was watching a movie in a theater, taking me out of the action every time to shock me with the last-minute Halloween costume-y nature of his appearance. And it was a reminder that both money and time were being surrendered to this endeavor and that I was never going to get either back. When I die and I am in the regrets-of-time-wasted portion of my final moments highlight reel, this grimy, dingy, unfun little affair will be on it. D-

Rated R for bloody violence and grisly images, some sexual content, graphic nudity, language and brief drug use. Directed by Fred Andrews and written by Fred Andrews and Tracy Morse, Creature is an hour and 33 minutes and is distributed by Bubble Factory.






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