Tempting as it might be to dismiss Muck, writer/director Steve Wolsh’s debut horror feature, as a load of old... well, you get the picture... we will endeavour to be as upbeat and constructive as possible in the face of... well, a load of old... movie manure.
Muck really isn’t particularly accomplished but it does have its good points (several of them if you count all the shameful and luridly-depicted persistent toplessness of most of its female cast). Wolsh is probably as sick as the rest of us of horror movies where teens blunder into trouble and then get bumped off one by one. He decides to cut away the flab of the traditional first act and his film opens with a terrified girl – in her underwear, naturally – screaming and wandering around thick undergrowth. She’s joined by several others; one of them is severely injured and two of their number are dead already. Something is out there in the darkness doing Bad Things so they take refuge in a nearby empty Cape Cod vacation house and one of them slopes off to look for help.
This intriguing premise quickly falls apart as logic, common sense and any concept of a coherent narrative are flung out of the nearest window. The kid who goes off to call for help (you won’t care what his name is either) ends up in a bar flirting with two girls, something attacks the surviving kids in the house and eventually someone’s brother turns up to help but gets attacked by the fleshy, white-skinned creatures from the swamp who are suddenly called ‘Crawlers’ for no apparent reason. The script, already on dodgy ground, becomes completely undisciplined; Wolsh seems to think it’s time to get ironic and post-modern and his characters suddenly start indulging in fatuous, vacuous sub-Tarantino banter entirely inappropriate to the perilous situation they’re in. They’re already a throwaway and unlikable bunch, but by the time those who are left are battling with the Creepers, you’ll surely have learned to detest them and want to see them out of their – and your – misery as soon as possible.
Muck is a fascinatingly terrible film mainly because, buried in the muddy mulch of its production (it’s shot on grainy digital video), there are the germs of something which could have been much more inventive and ingenious. But it flops as a horror film – it’s just not scary – and Wolsh’s rampant misogyny and casual racism will repulse most of the audience far more than the body-ripping antics of the pallid Crawlers. Fleeting appearances by genre legend Kane (Jason Vorhees) Hodder can’t compensate for the grim experience of this ugly, unpleasant film which is a mucky movie for all the wrong reasons.
MUCK / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: STEVE WOLSH / STARRING: LACHLAN BUCHANAN, PUJA MOHINDRA, JACLYN SWEDBERG, BRYCE DRAPER, KANE HODDER / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW