Hunter is a young man heading home to farmland USA for the first time since telling his father that he is gay. A bunch of his friends have accompanied him on the trip because Hunter doesn’t know what to expect when he gets there from his conservative papa. Before we meet Hunter, we know this homeward journey is unlikely to end well as a pre-credits sequence lets us know there’s someone or something with murderous intent lurking out there in the corn fields and farm buildings.
As his friends set up a literal barn dance (really!), Hunter has to cope with a frosty and dismissive reaction from his father. The party gets in full swing and we learn Hunter’s friends aren’t quite as happy a gang as had first seemed.
Then the titular monster, a maniac with the head of a pitchfork where his hand should be, arrives to properly spoil everything. And it’s quickly clear Hunter shouldn’t have been bothered about his dad’s reaction to his news, as the more pressing issue becomes keeping himself and his young and dumb friends alive.
So we’re in full-on slasher movie territory. There’s a lot of work to be done to stand out in such a crowded subset of the horror genre, and though Pitchfork does manage this, it does so for the wrong reasons.
Early on director and co-writer Glenn Douglas Parkard juxtaposes silly comedy and a barrage of ticks to try and make us like Hunter’s ‘crazy’ gang with a cacophony of juddering clanging and banging on the soundtrack to let us know something bad is on its way. And that ‘bad’ is a mix of slasher with segues into torture porn and Texas Chainsaw ‘homage’. On the plus side he has one or two surprises that threaten originality. The HD filming makes good use of the rural landscape. Frustratingly Packard and his crew are therefore evidently able to make a professional product, it’s just wasted on this ill-advised, ill-conceived rubbish.
The inexplicably omnipresent killer is given an abundance of screen time, which strips away any menace that could have been generated when said murderer resembles nothing frightening and more a kind of bizarre hamster Leatherface in dirty shorts having a hissy fit.
It seems, dear readers, that we are now in a 'post-truth' world of moviemaking where one could potentially question and argue without answer whether something is naff on purpose as part of a wider joke, or just naff. In this new cannon of film, Pitchfork may take its place.
It’s either a genuinely brilliant and very funny pastiche of bad slasher flicks or simply a terrible, non-scary, non-horrific example of the subgenre at its worst. Problem is, an audience shouldn't still be possibly perplexed as to which when the film is over. In truth, we know it’s the latter, which sadly makes this one to avoid, unless you’re a connoisseur of the crap.
PITCHFORK / DIRECTOR: GLENN DOUGLAS PACKARD / SCREENPLAY: DARRYL F. GARIGLIO, GLENN DOUGLAS PACKARD / STARRING: BRIAN RAETZ, DANIEL WILKINSON, LINDSEY NICOLE, RYAN MOORE, CELINA BEACH / RELEASE DATE: JANUARY 13TH