Someone really must have committed to a title involving a creek, because this 2008 shot-in-Romania horror movie was originally called Creek (huh?) and then Town Creek (it’s still listed as that on the IMDb) before being released as Blood Creek, even though there was another film with that title released just two years earlier. Besides being a) unresonant in all its variations and b) inviting critical jibes about that Other Creek which is often mentioned (as in Hammer’s face-freezing comedy Up the Creek), the creek – or river – barely features in the landlocked, farm-set picture despite an early scene involving a canoe trip that could as easily be taken on foot, by tandem bicycle or autogiro for all its impacts the plot, which is about Nazi occult science, a semi-immortal sort-of vampire, and a terrorised farm. What was so wrong with Blood Farm, Runestone of Terror or Nazi Vampire?
A mix of downwardly and upwardly mobile talents, Blood Creek was scripted by David Kajganich, who had just come off that troubled Nicole Kidman redo of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and would go on to script the miniseries The Terror and the Suspiria remake, and directed by Joel Schumacher, whose run of eclectic, well-budgeted, star-name duds survived Batman & Robin but finally crashed with the Phantom of the Opera musical. Schumacher doesn’t exactly do a terrible job on this average-to-incoherent effort, in that you’ll have forgotten it while some of his other films are burned in the memory … but imitating the style of Martin Bernewitz (The Messengers 2) or Tony Giglio (Timber Falls) is an unusual career move for the man who gave you St Elmo’s Fire, Flatliners, Falling Down, The Lost Boys, bat-nipples, Colin Farrell’s career and Gerard Butler with a slight rash as the Phantom of the Opera. One thing Schumacher has always been good as is signing up stars of the future, and this features early roles for Henry Cavill and Michael Fassbender as a blandly puzzled hero and a scar-masked villain, characters who could have been played by literally anyone with roughly the same screen impact, while top billing goes to Dominic Purcell, who was one of the screen’s worst Draculas (Blade Trinity) but has rather surprisingly developed into a very funny presence on Legends of Tomorrow. It also gives a key role – imagine Margo from Lost Horizon transported to a torture porn quickie – to Emma Booth, later the villainess of Hounds of Love.
Given that Kajganich would eventually rewrite Dario Argento, it’s just conceivable that this really is a veiled homage to Lucio Fulci’s House by the Cemetery – Fassbender’s Nazi sadist vampire-slasher (sporting a black trenchcoat, bald head, scarifications, a peel-off mask and claws) is very reminiscent of Fulci’s well-remembered Dr Freudstein. In a black and white 1930s prologue, Wirth (Fassbender) arrives at the midwestern farm of the German immigrant Wollner family in order to pore over a Viking runestone dug out of one of their fields – some muttering in front of it gives him the ability to resurrect a dead bird, but also impels him to do something nasty to the daughter of the family. In modern times, Vic Marshall (Purcell), an Iraq war veteran who has been missing for two years, shows up to drag his EMT brother Evan (Cavill) on a mission of vengeance to the rune-fenced farm where he’s been whipped with barbed wire all this time. This lands the brothers, plus surplus abductee Luke Benny (Shea Whigham), in the homestead of the frozen-in-time Wollners, terrorised by the angry and violent monster Wirth has turned into. The villain’s resurrection trick works on anything, so he gets to run several zombie horses through the farmhouse – which would be a more disturbing idea if the CGI alterations to the animals weren’t so crude.
We’re told there was an extensive search for the missing Evan, and presumably all the other people who’ve gone missing over the years, but no authorities have ever noticed the farm with all the ominous runes and the family who’ve not got older since the 1930s (and nor has their truck). Evan is understandably upset by his traumatic experience, but still acts like a complete idiot rushing unprepared back into danger and dragging his brother with him. Early on, there’s character stuff about how the brothers’ abusive invalid father (Gerard McSorley) idolises the missing war vet son and harangues the son who stayed home to look after him (and spends his days treating victims at meth lab shoot-outs) as a coward, but if there were any scenes developing this later on, they got dropped in favour of running around screaming.
It takes a certain kind of ineptitude to cast one of the most charismatic performers of his generation as a Nazi vampire, then limit his role to the sort of business any Romanian stuntman could have handled.