I don’t know what possessed me to watch the movie Creature from 2011. It was on Netflix streaming, I was in the mood for some direct to DVD monster fare, and Bob’s your Uncle. I honestly had no other criteria other than that. Heck I thought this was one of those SyFy movies of the week. The only blurb I read about it before watching it was like one line that read “…Alligator monster tears up vacationing young people…”
I guess what I’m trying to say here is that I went into this thing completely blind, expecting to see nothing more than idiot teenagers killed by a poorly CGI’d alligator thing. Creature wasn’t that movie.
It’s nice when a movie can surprise you.
We open on some chick stripping completely nude and skinny dipping in a swamp, then getting her legs ripped off by an unseen underwater assailant. Nice! Roll Title.
Next we meet up with the aforementioned young people, heading out for camping trip in the swamps of Louisiana. Oliver and his sister Karen, Randy and his girlfriend Beth, and Niles and his girlfriend Emily. We get a little character development: Niles and Randy are in some branch of the military, Beth seems like the typical Final-Girl while Karen is a party chick, Oliver is the jokester/jerk guy and you immediately want him to die a horrible, miserable death.
The group comments on how dilapidated and run down everything looks before stopping at a creepy old gas station for a pit-stop. The girls go to use the facilities while the boys head inside. Creepy gas station is staffed by creepy gas station attendants who are walking redneck cliches. One guy has a bunch of fingers missing, one guy has rotting yellow teeth, one guy is even Sid Haig! Excellent! The guys find a little shrine to the local legend: a giant killer alligator man. The rednecks give them info on where to find the old cabin from the legend and the boys decide to go, dragging their girlfriends along.
They get to the creepy abandoned cabin and decide to set up camp for the night, couples begin to pair off for sexy times, we see POV shots from the killer in the woods, blah blah blah, you know where this is going right? Pretty bog standard stuff.
I thought so too, but this is where the movie decided to start throwing me curve-balls.
So far this movie was pretty well acted and had decent dialogue, had good lighting and camerawork, and even though we were 30-40 minutes with almost no kills it kept my interest. It was like the opening of every Friday the 13th or Wrong Turn or Hatchet. If it had kept on that track, if it was just these campers running from an alligator monster and being killed one-by-one that honestly would have been fine.
!@#$%^&*Here thar be spoilers*&^%$#@!
So Randy heads back to the car to get more beer, and Niles and Emily wander off for sexy times and Oliver goes to bed. Karen and Beth get drunk on wine, and Karen makes moves on Beth. Word up! One of the failings of this film, and all the people involved with it is that this scene does not go on long enough. Anyway Randy comes back and ruins everything, and Karen wanders off.
Meanwhile Niles and Emily start getting hot and heavy and unbeknownst to them Oliver is hiding in the bushes taking pictures of them. Karen, his sister, shows up and starts giving him a … helping hand. Then Sid Haig shows up, punches Karen out, and starts telling Oliver about how he has to sacrifice things in lean times and whatnot. Turns out Oliver and Karen are his kids.
He has the other rednecks from the store, and a whole bunch of other folks stationed around to make sure the campers don’t leave the area. Karen is taken back to a cabin and tied up and Sid Haig lobs off her foot with a machete! He goes on about sacrificing for their family and all this mumbo-jumbo about blood ties and stuff. Oliver tells Niles and Emily that Randy went nuts and killed Karen. The alligator man shows up and attacks Beth. Crazy rednecks with guns roam the woods. People are disemboweled, shot, bludgeoned, machete’d.
Basically this just turned into a different movie, and that’s awesome.
!@#$%^&*Here thar were spoilers*&^%$#@!
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t the greatest flick I’ve ever seen; far from it. I feel kinda cheated when it comes to the various kills, as quick edits cover up the lack of good special effects. Which is odd, considering the otherwise great production values. Also the staging of some scenes makes it hard to know where characters are in relation to one another. I guess what I’m trying to illustrate here is how even with it’s flaws, I liked this movie because it tried to be its own thing while still staying firmly with that slasher/creature feature genre it so perfectly apes in the beginning of the movie. I wish more movies would take risks like that.
Plot twists aside, there are a number of other reasons I liked this movie. Firstly it looked great. I don’t know if they shot on film or digital or what, but unlike other direct to video movies of this ilk the picture was clear, well lit, and appealing. There are a lot of night shots, but I could clearly tell what was happening and didn’t have to strain my eyes to try to see into a black picture.
Also I didn’t see any CG. That alone puts this movie a notch above in my book. The alligator creature guy was a practical effect, and a pretty cool one at that. Basically a big rubber suit, it was kept in shadow a lot, but not so much that I didn’t feel cheated. When you did see the monster in full light it was short and sweet and a welcomed treat. There are messy entrails and bodies strewn about as well, but the camera thankfully doesn’t linger on them allowing you to see how fake they are. Very smart use of these special effects.
The acting was appealing for this type of movie. I don’t really feel like there was a weak link anywhere here, everyone did a great job. Sid Haig was a treat as usual. He always seems like he’s having the time of his life when he’s in a movie like this. I really didn’t expect to see him here but he was a wonderful, welcome addition. Mehcad Brooks (T.K. from USA’s Necessary Roughness) played Niles. Again, I was shocked to see him here, but he did a great job. He was able to pull off playing a person with military training thrust into impossible circumstances. Kudos to you sir! I’d watch him in more cheapie horror flicks.
*Side note* All the ladies in this movie were very attractive, and there is a decent bit of nudity. Much appreciated movie, much appreciated.
So we’ve got a pretty cool plot, solid acting, fun special effects and it looked great. What’s not to like? Well like I said before the various kills were not really very creative and quick editing robs us of the deadly money shots. If you are looking to watch people die in gruesome and inventive ways you might be better served elsewhere. Also the ending was a little weak for the same reason. I wanted a really climactic showdown where our heroes use their strength and ingenuity to prevail … and I guess that does happen but we don’t really get to see it.
You know, thinking about this, it almost feels like the producers used their money to hire good actors, get great locations, make a cool alligator man costume, hired great writers and bought cameras and lights and people that know how to use them … then didn’t have enough money to show us the good stuff. That’s quite a conundrum. If they spent the money on gory kills and stunt people for fight scenes then the rest of the movie would have suffered and it might not have been as good. Weird.
Anyway, I’d say that if you want a slasher that isn’t quite a slasher, check this one out. It’s not the best, but its only 90 minutes and it has Sid Haig being crazy and guy in a rubber alligator man costume running around killing people in it!