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Shallow Creek Cult (2012)

| Action, Horror, Thriller
In this found video footage horror genre feature, two brothers, Getty and Jessie Carmichael, drive 90 miles to Shallow Creek, Louisiana to honor their deceased grandfather's final request ... See full summary »

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In this found video footage horror genre feature, two brothers, Getty and Jessie Carmichael, drive 90 miles to Shallow Creek, Louisiana to honor their deceased grandfather's final request to spread his ashes over the Shallow Creek camp site pond. After the ceremony, they stumble across a viciously cannibalistic and mysterious cult, presumed responsible for the bloody massacres of various Shallow Creek, Louisiana residents. And now the Carmichael brothers are on the menu. Written by Anonymous

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Ham-Fisted Writing and Halloween Masks
2 June 2016 | by (Maryland, USA) – See all my reviews

I think we may have found it, folks -- the bottom of the found footage barrel. "Shallow Creek Cult" is what happens when two guys get a camcorder and spend a hundred bucks at Party City for production design. But it's not the cheapness of "Cult" that offends me -- I've seen better done with less -- but the fact that the screenplay violates all of my personal rules of good narrative.

I think the writing is supposed to be humorously self-aware, and that might work in a better movie, but "Cult" is constantly calling out found footage tropes while simultaneously indulging in them. If your characters expound on the stupidity of splitting up to investigate, and then immediately split up to investigate, it seems less like your screenplay is hip and edgy and more like your characters are dumb. The offense is compounded by the ham-fisted way that these conversations are shoehorned into the movie. At one point, the characters are fleeing through the woods, and one of them says "Hold up a minute, shouldn't we talk about...?" And then they talk about some absurd element of the script.

Second, never name-drop better movies in a bad movie. This movie name-drops "Blair Witch" and "Scarface", both of which are vastly superior to this dreck. And unfortunately for this calamity, Blair Witch had a better script -- and it was improvised.

Third -- and this one could possibly be chalked up to budget -- "Cult" is constantly telling rather than showing. A good five minutes of the film (it seems like -- it may have been shorter, but my relative experience of time slowed to a crawl) is given over to READING NEWSPAPER CLIPPINGS. And not just the relevant bits ("Man consumed by cannibals!"), but the incredibly boring biographical information from the beginning of the article. Good job, Screenwriter/Director/Production Designer/Lead Actors/Gaffer -- you wrote the whole newspaper article. That is some legit world building, but we don't need to HEAR the whole article.

What's worse, all of the interesting bits are either not shown, or are shown in quick cutaways. We are told there's a body in a tub, but we never actually SEE it. A woman is attacked by cannibals, WE ARE TOLD, but all we get to actually see is some stage blood and a bad K-Mart wig. We are TOLD that the cultists appear to be inhuman -- but we are not actually shown, because that would reveal that the cultists are, in fact, wearing latex masks from the local halloween superstore (to be fair, we do get to see an awful lot of the cultists' hands -- which do appear to be from the local halloween superstore).

The final nail in the coffin for this film is that it lacks any sort of meaningful plot, arc, or resolution. The characters do not learn or change, nothing meaningful is revealed about the menace of the cultists, and we as an audience are completely unmoved by our characters' plight. The film raises plenty of questions -- whose house is this? Who are the cultists? Where did they come from? Why is no one doing anything about it? -- and answers exactly none of them. And this might bother me more, if I cared AT ALL about anyone or anything in this movie. One could create a nearly identical film by recording a couple of high-school kids driving to a "Haunted House" attraction, going through it, and then driving home. Bracket that with some foreboding white text on a black screen, and you have "Shallow Creek Cult".

There is nothing to recommend this film, and I am diminished by having seen it.


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