Usual chumps, chomps in horrid horror flick
Deep in the swampy hearts and minds of some filmmakers, embarrassing stereotypes still fester, gathering moss and slime.
According to “Creature,’’ rural Louisianans - Cajuns, in particular - are inbred, brown-toothed, and filthy. They live at the bayou’s edge in creaky wooden shacks. They speak about “the Loooord’s will.’’ And, in the cliched horror world of newbie director Fred M. Andrews, they adhere to backwoods, backward rituals that involve blood rites, incest, and a goofy lizard man.
You see, once upon a time, a hick named Grimley lost his loved ones (including his pregnant bride/sister) to a giant white alligator. Overcome with rage, he killed the reptile with his bare hands, ate it, and “became one with the gator.’’ As generations passed, the Bigfoot-like legend of Lockjaw grew.
Naturally, the bumpkins must sacrifice a woman every so often to keep the creature happy, and keep the ancient bloodline pumping, or some such moonshine. So we’ll need the hackneyed trope of outsiders rolling into town: 20-somethings Mehcad Brooks (TV’s “True Blood’’), Serinda Swan (TV’s “Breakout Kings’’) and other hot young things - six in total, three babes and three hunks - road tripping to N’awlins. So our fresh meat has a fighting chance, two of the guys are ex-Marines.
Taking a pit stop, our protagonists meet said yokels who tell them about the alligator man. Curious, they decide to camp on the bayou near the old Grimley shack. Cue the campfire, the pot smoking, even a woman-on-woman sex scene (this is 2011, after all). Off camera, the scaly beast snarls. One by one (except for two survivors) the nobodies go down. Creature: 4, Originality: 0.
All this would be gator-jerky-chomping, tongue-in-cheek fun, if the writers had any clue where their cheeks were located. But the dialogue is written, and played, straight. Our monster is about as convincing as a “Creature From the Black Lagoon’’ man in a rubber suit. Heck, within the first 30 seconds, in a “Jaws’’ rip-off, some woman disrobes, swims, and is promptly gnawed in half.
A more interesting angle might have been to explore the creature’s sorrow, from its point of view. But aside from a brief flashback showing how Grimley’s grief led him to become, like Gollum, more and more mad and reptile-like, it’s hunt and chase and supper time.
Y’all come back, now, y’hear?
Ethan Gilsdorf can be reached at www.ethangilsdorf.com.