Director: Fred M. Andrews
Starring: Sid Haig (‘House of 1000 Corpses,’ ‘The Devil’s Rejects’), Mehcad Brooks (‘True Blood’) and Serinda Swan (‘Tron: Legacy’)
Discovering the unknown and the impossible is often a powerful and successful motivator in horror films, as is the case in director Fred M. Andrew’s upcoming movie ‘Creature.’ The first-time feature film helmer lured both his characters and his viewers with the distinctive tale of an enraged man who transformed into a flesh-eating monster. While audiences will surely become interested in how the characters use their life experiences to interact with, and try to save themselves from, the creature, its appearance unfortunately fails to elicit any true fear from anyone.
‘Creature’ follows Niles (played by Mehcad Brooks), an ex-Navy seal as he heads out on a road trip to New Orleans with his girlfriend Emily (portrayed by Serinda Swan) and several of their friends. The group decides to stop at a roadside convenience store owned by Chopper (played by Sid Haig), who tries to scare the group with the tale of fabled creature Lockjaw, who is half-man, half-alligator.
The legend, which the friends initially believe is a tourist trap for the locals to make money off of, tells the story of the inbreed Grimley, who lost his family to a white alligator. He was driven to madness, and some believe he was transformed into the creature that haunts the depths of the swamp. However, the group’s curiosity is peaked, so they decide to check the backwoods and an old dilapidated cabin that’s supposed to be the birthplace of the creature. As they set up camp for the night, the friends realize that Lockjaw is indeed real, and the locals are hiding a secret that jeopardizes them all.
While ‘Creature’ is supposed to highlight the bond between Niles, Emily and their friends as they struggle to survive their meeting with Lockjaw, Haig once again gives one of the more memorable performances of the film. Much like one of his most recognizable characters, Captain Spaulding from ‘House of 1000 Corpses’ and ‘The Devil’s Rejects,’ the actor initially portrays Chopper as a seemingly innocent, but slightly odd, convenience store owner trying to help tourists traveling through town. But as the film continues, the young, traveling group comes to realize that Chopper isn’t as friendly and helping as they thought he was. Viewers will surely question what part Chopper, who both intentionally and unintentionally provides humor to the plot with his dialogue and jokes, plays in the Lockjaw legend.
Andrews, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Tracy Morse, also deserves credit, for creating a detailed back-story for Lockjaw. Many horror movies are only concerned with raising the shock value and filling their plots with continuous killings, instead of infusing a reasoning why the antagonist is targeting their victims. However, the writer-director aimed to create a diverse motive and background for each of the characters, so the audience can relate to every one of them.
While ‘Creature’ aimed to intertwine the characters’ backstories with Lockjaw’s murderous streak, the technical aspects of the movie unfortunately failed to live up to other horror films. Daniel Bernhardt, who portrayed Grimley and Lockjaw, should be recognized for wearing the creature costume, which Andrews has said weighed over 60 pounds, during the shoot in Baton Rouge. However, the costume will unfortunately fail to scare viewers, as there’s nothing unique or memorable about it. Given the fact that Lockjaw is the main element of fear in the film, and is determined to kill Niles, Emily and their friends, the look of the creature should have been more terrifying and advanced.
Andrews put in a commendable effort with his feature directorial debut, as he decided to incorporate the characters, their histories and their motives into a genre that usually succeeds on graphic, gory stunts and unique creatures. Haig naturally added humor to the otherwise serious subject of friends being targeted and killed, which helped make his scenes fun and entertaining, but daunting at the same time. While Andrews and Haig deserve credit for their efforts, unfortunately, their good intentions failed to make up for the lack of the scare element surrounding Lockjaw’s appearance.
Written by: Karen Benardello