Archive for September 3, 2014


Okay, sue me — I’ve been on something of a “found footage” horror kick again lately, for reasons even I can’t explain, and if you don’t like it —a position many right-thinking folks would have at least some sympathy for (including, if I’m being totally honest, myself) — well, maybe this blog just isn’t the place for you to be for awhile, because I’ve got a few more I’ve checked out recently that I’ll probably have something to say about in the days ahead. Let’s not kid ourselves — much as we might sometimes wish this fad would just be over and done with already, it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon, and I’ve been quite pleasantly surprised to find a small number of gems hidden away in the far-flung corners of this admittedly over-used subgenre lately.

Unfortunately, the movie under our metaphorical microscope today, 2012’s Crowsnest (yes, all one word) isn’t one of them. Released — as most of these things seem to be — under the IFC Midnight label, I gave this flick a spin on Netflix last night (no DVD or Blu-ray technical specs included with this review, although it’s available in both formats if you’re so inclined) and almost immediately regretted it, but kept watching regardless just , well, because. You know how it goes.

Don’t get me wrong — it’s not that director Brenton Spencer’s little opus doesn’t have a few things going for it. There are a couple of genuinely make-you-jump-outta-your seat moments, and the premise of a group of twenty-somethings lost in the back woods and being pursued by a pack of nomadic cannibals in an RV is a fairly nifty one. The big problem lies in the fact that screenwriter John Sheppard forgot to write at least one reasonably sympathetic character that the average audience member would want to survive.


The trouble starts in pretty much immediately, as we’re introduced to Justin (Victor Zinck Jr.), an uber-annoying hipster (as, I’m willing to wager, most Justins tend to be) who’s toying around with the new HD camera his whiny girlfriend, Brooke (Mittita Barber) has given him as a birthday present. Right off the bat you can’t wait for these two self-absorbed idiots to die, and the same is true of their friends, entitled wuss Kirk (Aslam Husain), his stereotypical nagging old lady Amanda (Chelsey Reis), and her obviously-emotionally-disturbed, holy roller sister, Danielle (Christie Burke). Seriously, I’ve seen some unlikable-in-the-extreme ensembles cobbled together in low-budget horror flicks, but trust me when I say this bunch takes the cake. They’re literally all  a bunch of fuck-ups.

Anyway, the gang is headed off to Kirk’s parents’ cottage in, by the looks of things, northern California, and while you’d think he’d know the way there since he’s been there plenty of times before, he still manages to get them lost looking for some remote place he knows with, get this, half-price beer. They do eventually find said cut-rate liquor establishment (the titular Crowsnest dilapidated vacation rental spot), but then they get lost again, the RV full of “long pig” connoisseurs finds them, and then they get mercilessly fucked with until they’re all dead.

Unfortunately, that happens about 80 minutes too late into the film’s 85-minute runtime. Not that some of the violent harassment they endure isn’t well-deserved (okay, it all is), but when you’re rooting against a movie’s protagonists from the jump, you’re generally not in the mood to have the agony that is their continued breathing stretched out for too long.


Honestly, when you think about it, a certain type of creative genius is required to screw up a premise as cool as cannibals in a camper, but Crowsnest manages that feat with ease. There’s a believable enough reason offered for why Justin won’t ever turn his goddamn camera off, but the over-use of the device’s night vision begins to grate fairly quickly, as do the numerous way-too-extended takes and purposely awkward angles (quite dropping the thing on the ground already, please!) . All in all, though, those complaints are small potatoes up against the big one, which is that any horror story worth its salt needs at least one — just one — character that the audience wouldn’t happily kill themselves, and Spencer and Sheppard flat-out don’t give us one.


Truth be told, when these spoiled little shits start dying off, it almost comes more as a relief than anything else, because the stresses of being hunted end up bringing out an even worse side of people who don’t have a good one (like when Justin suggests leaving one of his supposed “friends” who’s bleeding out on the side of the road). I’m as naturally inclined toward misanthropy as anyone — and I realize full well that many so-called “millenials” have earned the rather lousy reputation their generation has — but come on, enough is enough. Not even Woody Allen in his prime could populate a film with this many conceited, gutless, egocentric assholes and make it work.