Horses don't factor into horror movies very often. When they do, they usually act like real horses (the attuned mounts from Firestarter come to mind, as does the suicidal Thoroughbred from The Ring, or the dead-on kicker in The Exorcism of Emily Rose). But sometimes, as in Terry Gilliam's dark fantasy The Brothers Grimm, the ponies do some very out of character things. That's the case here, in Joel Schumacher's (pretty much) straight-to-DVD zombie flick, Blood Creek. (It's a scene which must be seen to be appreciated, so I'll leave it at that.)
Saddled with a rather unfortunate and not very evocative title, Blood Creek actually has a lot going for it. Aside from an assiduously silly storyline, it has Schumacher at the helm (Falling Down, The Lost Boys, Veronica Guerin… and yes, I even liked The Number 23, dammit) as well as some actors with real chops (whose films include Inglourious Basterds, and quality TV series such as The Tudors and Prison Break). So, it's not like a bunch of no-name, no-talents got together and decided to make a b-grade horror movie. Somebody obviously cared enough to put together a good cast and crew.
But the movie isn't entirely good. As I said, it's pretty silly and unfortunately some of the scenes obviously intended to be shocking and effective are hobbled by budget; the dodgy CGI really undermines the scares. It's too bad, because there is a lot to like about Blood Creek.
In spite of its generic, forgettable title, the movie's plot is pretty unique: With a black and white prologue set in the 1930s, we meet no-good Nazi occultist Professor Richard Wirth (Michael Fassbender), a man who's traveled from Germany to a farm in West Virginia in search of an artifact he's convinced will grant immortality. In fact, he is correct. What he doesn't count on is achieving his goal and then being trapped inside a barn for the next 75 years.
Cue the modern-day in-color portion of the film. Needless to say, as 2009 rolls around, the nasty Third Reich henchman is up to no good, has got a wicked case of cabin fever, and is determined to escape. Wirth's American gatekeepers are also immortal (semi-immortal, anyway), and it's a fight to the death as two all-too-mortal brothers (played by Dominic Purcell and Henry Cavill) join the fray. Of course, all hell breaks loose when the hungry Nazi-zombie/vampire breaks loose.
Fassbender, a truly fantastic actor, is commanding and creepy as the undead horsemaster. His makeup is fantastic, and he really goes for the gusto as this determined and completely nightmarish creature. He's got flair and flourish, without going over the top (though just where the top might be when it comes to playing a Nazi-zombie/vampire is probably pretty damned high-up!). Purcell lends an urgency to the proceedings as Wirth's victim who's hellbent on revenge, and the young woman who's been both captive and captor to Wirth for nearly 100 years, Liese, is played with unblinking seriousness by Emma Booth. Cavill rounds out the cast of main players as another pawn in this absurd play, and he is fine; but his character is at times so rash and so stupid, his becomes a pretty thankless job.
While Blood Creek doesn't quite work (it may have been better off played as a dark comedy), it's still worth a look for Fassbender's Wirth and for the whacky "Trigger-gone-crazy" sequences. Oh, and did I mention the shiv made of magical runestone? Yeah, that's there too!
What isn't there on the disc are extras. Too bad… I would've loved a commentary track from Schumacher.
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson