Tuesday, March 30, 2010

CREATURE OF DARKNESS

My expectations were not particularly high when I slipped the screener disc of the upcoming MTI sci-fi/horror flick, CREATURE OF DARKNESS (2009), produced, written and directed by Mark Stouffer, into my player. And that's probably a good thing, because it actually allowed me to enjoy the low-budget genre offering on its own modest merits.

A young man named Andrew (Devon Sawa, IDLE HANDS, DEVIL'S DEN) is plagued by nightmares about a strange, alien creature. In order to help him try and overcome these seemingly irrational night terrors, his friends take him to the desert for camping and off-road motoring. Unfortunately, it turns out that Andrew's dreams are prophetic, and the group of squabbling young adults find themselves being hunted and killed by an extraterrestrial "Catcher," who intends to use the kids as subjects in his biological experiments.

The dialogue and situation is stock (and frequently corny), the performances range from adequate to awful, and the special effects work is inconsistent. The titular creature is nicely designed, though, and is realized through both a pretty nifty animatronic puppet and some decidedly shoddy CGI. Needless to say, I liked the physical, rubber alien better than the cartoon one.

Sawa's acting is among the "adequate," and he does a fair job portraying his character's fear and internal conflicts - until he's forced by the script to deliver a long, ludicrous expositional speech about two-thirds of the way through the film, which, frankly, almost no actor could have pulled off with any dignity. As one would expect from this kind of film, the young cast is attractive - especially the young ladies. I was quite taken in particular by exotic Sanoe Lake (BLUE CRUSH) and pretty TV veteran Sienna Goines (JERICHO). Overall, the photo/videography is professionally slick, and the technical aspects of the film are solid.

It may not sound like I have much positive to say about the movie, but I actually thought that CREATURE was just a little better than your average DTV monster movie. The pace is good, it has a few clever bits, and I liked that the alien creature actually disguised itself with human clothing. I don't actually remember seeing that in any of these space monster flicks before.

MTI provided me with a simple screener disc (not the final retail product), but it sports a solid, 1.66: 1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, and Dolby 2.0 sound. The screener also includes a trailer for the film, which may or may not appear on the release version. In any case, it looks to be a bare-bones disc.

My recommendation is that if you like these sort of B-movie alien/monster flicks, you consider giving it a rental or catching it when it makes its inevitable SyFy Channel debut. It's not going to be on anyone's "best" lists, but it's a decent diversion.

CREATURE OF DARKNESS hits the streets on April 13th.

BUY: Creature of Darkness