’s review of Creature:
See those skulls up there?
Yeah. That’s right. I swore. That’s how you know I mean business. Even professionals swear when they mean business.
No, don’t “fuck the skulls” because most rating systems use stars. Fuck em’ because rating a movie like this by assigning it a number based on how well it did on the “ol’ test of contemporary filmmaking” just won’t work. This is no Hollywood blockbuster made to compete for your money with fancy schmancy budgets, “inspired dialogue” or high-tech voodoo-wizardry from the future. Creature is a total throwback to the days when the best movies were experienced from the seat of your car, and the spookiest damn thing available was some kid’s uncle in a rubber suit.
Don’t compare it to Contagion. Hell, don’t even compare it to Fright Night. Just ignore the friggin’ skulls and read on, because I’ll do my damndest to describe this film so that you can be the judge of as to whether or not you’re the one that Creature has been geared toward.
Our story begins with tits.
They belong to a naked woman going for a pleasant swim in the local river. As you may expect, things quickly go awry as she’s immediately chomped in half by something that we’re only given a fleeting glimpse of. Is it an alligator, or perhaps an alligator MAN-THING?
From there, we’re introduced to a gaggle of 20-somethings who are partaking in a wholesome road-trip somewhere in Louisiana. Of course, it’s no fooling that they’re gonna wind up massacred, and so from the first line of dialogue, we play the game of “who dies first.” Will it be Oscar (Dillon Casey) — the perpetually horny, appropriately annoying guy with a taste for urban legends? Maybe it’ll be his sister, Karen (Lauren Schneider) — the perpetually horny, appropriately annoying chick with a taste for sexual deviance.
It could end up being the token Black Guy and ex-marine, Niles (Mehcad Brooks) or his girlfriend Emily (Serinda Swan) — professional Megan Fox impersonator and the only person in this movie with boobs that we never get to see.
Last on the list of those who probably won’t make it out of the second act are Beth and Randy (respectively played by Amanda Fuller and Aaron Hill) — two characters about as exciting as boiled potatoes, so you can only imagine what happens to them.
“What do you mean by ‘Dead bro walking’?”
Our heroes find quiet refuge in a convenience store run by a cast of delightfully demented local rednecks, all sporting their own hilarious dysfunctions. Chief among them is Chopper, played by genre-staple Sid Haig. To many of the target audience, these country-fried freaks of nature will alone be worth the price of admission, as the most entertaining scenes usually focus on them.
Chopper welcomes our friends with his usual “I have bright eyes and a great smile, but I’m actually going to eat your face” hospitality and encourages Oscar and the gang to go on a trek through the backwoods in search of a dilapidated cabin — the birthplace of swamp-monstrosity, Lockjaw.
As you can imagine, Lockjaw is the titular Creature that graces the film’s poster, who — as told by his origin story — was once a simple man who sought revenge against a great white alligator that ate his sister/wife. In a brutal act of revenge, which forced him to sacrifice his humanity, he lost hold of his sanity and became “one with the gator.” I wasn’t really sure how that worked, but I’ve read about Buddhist monks becoming “one with the universe,” so it’s probably got something to do with that.
Along the way, we meet indie movie actor Pruitt Taylor Vince as a village idiot named Grover. As you can guess, he’s a dead man walking, and while chasing his dreams (a bag of potato chips) into the swamp, he ends up tragically delicious. Rest in peace, Grover. I didn’t really understand a thing you said, but you were fun while you lasted.
Long story short, our group of young adults find a place to set up camp, hunker down and get nice and inebriated. Because they foolishly chose to follow in the footsteps of the stereotypes that came before them, one by one they get annihilated, eradicated and inseminated.
Now, to some, the previously mentioned rehash of a plot doesn’t seem like a far cry from a lot of modern dayflicks. Where Creature stands apart — and either falters or shines, depending on your point of view — is in the way it chooses to put its effects on display.
For instance, our main antagonist, Lockjaw, moves and acts like a guy in a suit doing his best impression of a guy in a suit. He’s not really convincingly terrifying and kind of looks like the unholy lovechild of Baraka from Mortal Kombat and Leonardo of Ninja Turtle fame. For the first half of the movie, he’s kept in the shadows, and in true old-timey fashion, when he’s in a well-lit area and putting the hurt on somebody, the camera darts around or the frame-rate slows stylistically. If someone gets dismembered, it happens off-screen, with the ramifications (be it a sudden absence of legs or Grover getting wrecked) displayed in full, gooey detail afterward.
“What’d you say happened to Grover? I thought I told him not to feed Lockjaw, damn it!”
With that being said, it’s worth mentioning that once things get rolling, you may not be shocked in the same ways that you’re used to. Nowadays, the word “horror” equates to “gorno” and in that respect, the removal of the whole “process” of violence might deter some. Also, Lockjaw himself might seem a little tame in terms of how menacing he is, compared to what we’re used to.
But it’s these expectations that — if not lived up to — will be what puts off most, because the only merging of old with the new that we’re treated to is the fact that this is simply a flat-out rubber-suit monster movie shot in digital.
You can either choose to love this movie or hate it, because it’s not the ironic parody that some might assume it to be, but actually an old-school drive-in flick played out as straight as can be; a tribute to times when someone could get shot in the leg, still make a fast escape and no one would notice. It’s not as campy or over-the-top as Grindhouse, and not as imaginative as something like Hobo with a Shotgun, but it definitely has its audience. Considering the fact it’s a low-budget love letter to monster movie nostalgia and has been independently distributed, you’ve got to give kudos to a and producer doing what they love.
The Verdict: [rating:2.5]
It’s kind of pointless to lambast a movie for being something that it never tried to be in the first place. With that in mind, now you know exactly what you’re in for, so don’t let any “either-or” criticism dissuade you from seeing something that was made for you in the first place. If you’ve a fascination with whatever’s playing on the horror network at 2 a.m., then be sure to show your support. Who knows? Maybe with time we’ll see more accessible trips down memory lane that’ll create even more fans of deliberately mindless indulgence.
And of course, I mean that in the best possible way.
- Yell! Rating (x/5 Skulls):
- Year Released:
- 9 September 2011 (USA)
- Fred Andrews
- Mehcad Brooks, Serinda Swan, D’Arcy Allen, Dillon Casey, Amanda Fuller, Sid Haig, Aaron Hill, David Jensen, Rebekah Kennedy, and Daniel Bernhardt
- Horror, Monster
- Official URL:
- Creature the movie