As uninspired as its generic title, Creature works hard at being a direct-to-DVD-quality monster movie. Making even fellow schlocky brethren like Hatchet look like the second coming of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Fred Andrews' film travels to the Louisiana bayou to indulge in more clichés than you can shake a crawfish at, from rampant nudity and filthy-teethed hillbillies to blandly attractive 20-somethings whose idea of a getaway is to journey into the middle of nowhere and then brashly act like they own the place. This tale of a sextet on their way to the Big Easy who wind up making a detour at the famed backwoods home of Grimley—a local half-man, half-gator legend notorious for eating the flesh of his sister-bride—is a wannabe-frightening fiasco with a cast of nobodies (save for creepy icon Sid Haig) that's devoid of scares, imagination and basic technical and screenwriting competence. Falling to pieces almost immediately, and then somehow discovering new ways to devolve into outright ludicrousness, it's a horror effort of such silliness that it's likely to be greeted with apathy at the box office before making a swift, deserved trip to the local video store's bargain bin.
In order to immediately satisfy the genre's most juvenile dictates, Creature's second shot is a close-up of a woman removing her top, which is quickly followed by full-frontal nudity whose gratuitousness is almost as lame as the character's decision to go skinny-dipping alone during the day in the middle of the bayou swamp, which unsurprisingly results in her legs being consumed by an alligator. Her hasty demise provides one of many limp jolt scares, though after this initial sequence, Andrews' story turns its attention to its main dolts, an obnoxious group led by insufferable Oscar (Dillon Casey), who after a pit-stop at creepy Chopper's (Haig) gas station convenience store, convinces the crew-which also includes former Marines Niles (True Blood's Mehcad Brooks) and Randy (Aaron Hill), their girlfriends Emily (Serinda Swan) and Beth (Amanda Fuller), and Oscar's sister Karen (Lauren Schneider)—to visit the Grimley abode. There, after Oscar is terrified by some spiders and birds, these soon-to-be-victims decide to camp out next to the ramshackle Grimley residence, a scenario that leads to flirting around a campfire, hetero and lesbian sex in the woods, and innumerable shots of the monstrous Grimley lurking nearby in the dark, where his signature menacing move is to slowly bend down or stand up.
Andrews' visuals involve awkward framing and blurry cinematographic effects, a middling aesthetic that extends to his soundtrack's dutiful loud noises. That Creature's titular baddie looks like a giant man in a fake-looking plastic costume-replete with a mask whose enormous mouth barely seems capable of moving-doesn't help amplify terror, nor does the hackneyed-to-death characterizations of young city folk as arrogant cretins and rednecks as grungy religious-zealot psychopaths. The usual dismemberments, bad dialogue, wooden performances, and screaming eventually crop up, and the inclusion of some incest and demonic rituals into the bloody mayhem does little to alter the fact that, at heart, the film is determined to hew to convention at every turn. That's true of the midway-point twist as well, which strives to inject some surprise into the otherwise straightforward material, and yet only raises plot-logic questions that the subsequent action never even addresses, much less resolves. "You have no idea what a real monster looks like," opines one hillbilly to de facto hero Niles and company, but by the time Creature gets around to its so-inane-it's-hilarious finale, it's painfully clear that director Andrews recognizes, and is adept at crafting, a really awful monster movie.
Distributor: Bubble Factory
Cast: Mehcad Brooks, Serinda Swan, Sid Haig
Director: Fred Andrews
Writers: Tracy Morse, Fred Andrews
Producers: Bill Sheinberg, Jonathan Sheinberg, Sid Sheinberg
Rating: R for bloody violence, grisly images, some sexual content, graphic nudity, language, and brief drug use
Running time: 95 min.
Release date: September 9, 2011
Like this review? Follow Nick Schager on Twitter: @nschager