Shallow Creek Cult (2012)
(TBC) Running time: 71 minutes
Director: King Jeff
Writer: King Jeff
Starring: King Jeff, Gorio
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish, official HCF critic
The found footage horror genre is still going strong, and up and coming movie makers can now make their mark by using as little money as possible. As long as you have a good idea, a decent story and a camera, you can pretty much do anything. Question is though, just how far can low budget go?
Shallow Creek Cult is the ultimate in low budget horror movie making, and while it does have some cool ideas, two likeable leads and an at times chilling story, it does struggle. That is not to say this is a bad film, far from it, but with a bigger budget and some special effects this could have been really good and cemented director King Jeff as a name to remember. What I really admired about this offering is the director, writer and stars heart and commitment to the horror genre. All the ingredients are here: a handheld camera, a cannibalistic cult, dead babies, creepy noises coming from the woods at night, surveillance cameras, night vision shots and the need to continue filming for “evidence”. Jeff has clearly done his homework, and it is clear from this he knows how to make horror work.
The film centres on two brothers played by real life brothers Jeff and Gorio, and the pair have recently lost their Grandfather and head to Shallow Creek in Louisiana to scatter his ashes. En route to their destination we get to know the pair as they chat about old times in the car. Both are instantly likeable, with both actors giving realistic performances. Once we arrive at their destination, we even get a rather warming song sung by the brothers, and on this evidence the pair could easily make it as musicians as well as filmmakers! They arrive at Shallow Creek, and no sooner have they scattered the ashes, they are disturbed by a group of cannibals eating a dead body. Running for their lives, they end up in a house in the middle of the woods, and stay there as night falls. The house is filled with surveillance cameras, and clearly the owners were trying to keep something out…
Everything here is either shot on handheld camera, surveillance camera or night vision, and based on the films ending, it is clear Jeff wanted this to appear as authentic as possible. For the most part it works, and the build up and time spent with the brothers is the films strongest assets. The monsters are done by way of the good old fashioned man in a suit job, and while they don’t exactly frighten, it was nice to see the old ways still working. The noises they make become a tad annoying though! The two actors play their parts well, but with the brothers being on camera for the entire film, the dialogue can sometimes feel a bit stretched. When the pair joke around and try and ignore the threat from outside, their natural ability to get on shines through, but when they have to appear frightened, it feels a little forced in places. Saying that though, they do play their characters well, and with heart.
The noises outside the house can be creepy at times, and when “gifts” to taunt them are left outside like a dead baby, the film does conjure up chills. The brothers begin to argue, with one of them stating how what he is filming will now be evidence, and while a number of found footage horrors struggle to give a good reason for using the camera, here it is said bluntly and to the point that they simply want to film as “evidence”. As things build to the climax, the brothers have to decide how they will survive the night, and as the usual night vision use comes into play, so does some of the films funnier moments. Witness Jeff order his brother as they go out with their guns to “go out there Butch and Sundance style!” Or even better is when Gorio shoots a monster dead in the pitch black, and we witness his victory taunt on night vision!
The film is fun, but not scary, but it plays by the found footage rules and even pays a little homage to one of the genres classics when Jeff says “don’t wanna be no part of no Blair Witch type shit out here!” It’s clear the makers enjoy their horror, but the film does struggle and just doesn’t quite have the skills to pull it off. At times it can be slow, some of the dialogue is hard to make out and the monsters may have been better left to the imagination. However, Shallow Creek Cult is a cool idea, the main characters are good fun to be around and the film covers all the basics of found footage horror. On the evidence of this, if King Jeff is given a bigger budget to work with he just might deliver something very good indeed.