Looking back at Joel Schumacher’s Blood Creek
In the final part of Carley’s Joel Schumacher retrospective, she looks at his most recent film, the period horror Blood Creek. But is it a return to form after the disastrous The Number 23...?
"Those who came before rule the blood. And when you rule the blood, death is no longer the end." - Richard Wirth
After the disaster that was The Number 23, director Joel Schumacher's next film would again be another huge step away from anything else in his back catalogue and he went about making a proper honest to goodness horror movie.
At the start of World War II, a German family, the Wollners, who are based in rural Maryland, agree to take in Professor Richard Wirth (Michael Fassbender), a Nazi scientist who is described to the family as a visiting scholar. Desperate for money, they agree to host him, unaware that the real reason he's there has to do with the very land they live on.
When they first moved onto the farm, the family discovered a Viking runestone on their property. Unaware and uninterested in it, they build a stable on top of it and thought no more of it. Little do they know that Wirth's real reason for being there is to harness the power of the stone and energize it to do evil and help the Nazi cause.
When the family realize what he is really doing, they ensure he is held captive and unable to hurt anybody else. Unfortunately, they are too late to save themselves and their fate is linked to Wirth's, which means they must keep him alive, but weak enough not to be able to hurt anybody else.
As the years pass, the family must capture and feed passersby to Wirth to keep him alive in his new form, which is somewhat of a zombie vampire. The family themselves remain in the exact same state as they did in 1939, making them prisoners of their own bodies.
In 2007, Evan Marshall (Henry Cavill) is stuck in a rut and unable to come to terms with his brother Victor's (Dominic Purcell) disappearance on a camping trip, for which his father blames him.
Thinking the worst has happened, Evan is shocked one night when his brother turns up alive and well, having escaped his captors on the farm. Wanting to ensure that nobody has to go through the same thing as he experienced, he loads up as many weapons as he can and convinces Evan to join him, although not explaining what they're going to fight.
When they reach the farm, the family explains to the brothers what the situation is and that Wirth is getting closer to opening his third eye, which, in turn, will end the world. Unwilling to listen to the family, the brothers soon change their tune when Wirth escapes from the basement and, after a difficult battle, they end up destroying him. As the Wollners rapidly age and die, the youngest, Liese (Emma Booth) informs the brothers that the Nazis sent eight further scientists to farms in the area, all with the same skills as Wirth.
Ready to return home, Victor goes back to his family, while Evan decides to track down and kill the rest and save the world from the Nazis' evil.
Thoughts and Reaction
After watching Blood Creek, the first thought that popped into my head was are you sure you read that correctly and this really is a Schumacher film? Now, this isn't because it was awful or because it was fantastic, but because it was so far away from anything he had done before.
This is a proper ‘jump out and scare you' horror movie and, although he has touched the genre somewhat before with The Lost Boys, this was far from the tongue in cheek horror that was. The only sign of him anywhere was in the cinematography, which, in fairness, could have been the work of any other director who was inspired by his style.
Thankfully, style is all over this movie and it looks great on screen, with the noir flashbacks being perfectly slotted into the more modern parts of the film. In fact, I would go as far as to say that a lot of horror directors could take some hints and tips from this movie on how to make their final products look a bit better. I mean, if I'm going to have to sit though another Final Destination or Saw film, I at least want to be impressed by something.
Luckily, Bloody Creek has more than just its looks to fall back on, with a script that actually is somewhat based in historical fact. Hitler had a strange fascination with the occult and wanted to find ways to harness it and use it for his own means. In reality, that never happened (that we know of), but just the idea alone is an interesting one and actually makes for a more unique premise than a lot of other horror movies that are out there.
Sadly, though, I think this movie really suffered from what I like to call horror movie overload. When the first Saw movie came out in 2003 and made a fortune, the world and its mother decided to jump onto the horror bandwagon, and thus, a slew of films were released trying to cash into this now lucrative market. Each of these films was more gory and overtly shocking than the last, and the term torture porn was born.
This new genre completely eclipsed the more traditional types of horror movies and that is why I, personally, think this movie didn't get the release or reaction it deserved. It's actually refreshing to see that this type of horror film is still being made and although, yes, it is a bit gory, it's nothing when compared to say Saw 6 or Hostel Part II, focusing on the story rather than racking up the body and body parts count.
As distributor Lionsgate has plenty of torture porn movies to release, Blood Creek got shuffled to the bottom of its pile and was dumped in cinemas quickly to little fanfare and pulled quicker than you can say, "Can I have a coke with my popcorn?" It was then dumped onto DVD without a second thought and seems like it is destined to be forgotten in the realms of (almost) direct-to-DVD movies.
And so, here I am, having reached the end of Schumacher's current back catalogue. The disappointment of Blood Creek hasn't stopped him in his tracks and he is currently finishing up the movie Twelve, which sees him looking at the drug culture among wealthy Manhattan teenagers and is due for release this month.
Following that, his next project, Trespass, has been hitting the headlines recently with lead star Nicolas Cage changing roles, dropping out, and coming back on board again and, barring anymore changes of heart from his cast, the film should be released in 2011.
So, thanks for sticking with me through the good, the bad and the Batman. I hope you've had as much fun as I have!
Blood Creek Key Info:
Distributed By: Lionsgate
Released: 18th September 2009 (US) / 9th October 2009 (UK)
Box Office Gross: Unknown
Best DVD Edition: Blood Creek DVD