Directed and Written by James Crow
A group of teens head to their cabin in the woods looking for a holiday of sex, drugs, and alcohol, only to be terrorized by some sort of monster that kills them off one by one. If this simple slasher premise sounds overdone, that’s because it is. We could speculate about what a film could do to update this tired plot and make a repetition of it interesting, or at the very least engaging. Black Creek, however, lacks imagination to answer this question, doing nothing new enough — or well enough — with the slasher basics to make them fun.
Starring YouTuber Chris O’Flying as a semi-outcast high schooler who brings a group of friends to his late father’s hunting cabin, Black Creek pads itself with a base of conventional teen characters to make use of offensive exoticism in order to generate a fear of that which is different. The film revolves around a Native American curse (of course, vaguely described as such) that encompasses everything from “Native symbols of death,” scalpings, and haunted dream catchers.
Retaliating against settler colonial violence, the spirit which slowly kills off white teens seems almost interesting. In a better film, it could have been used as a comment on North American foundation myths. In Black Creek, however, it is a monster targeting innocent white youths. Making use of stereotypes to demonize through fear, what could have started as the best of intentions devolves into an incredibly hateful depiction of the survivors of the longstanding effects of colonialism in America. The message is explicit: don’t be upset about what happened in the past — no one today is responsible for that. Apparently, Black Creek has no awareness of the continuing violent marginalization and oppression resulting from manifest destiny.
But at the risk of repetitiveness, it must be remembered that Black Creek is simply not good. The issue is not one of the struggle of a great film which is racist (which is a different debate entirely), but that of a film without any merit. To describe it as “dull” could hardly cover things. There is not a single good performance, and though the young actors appear — at least half the time — to be trying their best, they never seem at ease on screen, their stilted performances unfortunately matching the clumsy dialogue.
Poor acting is paired with uninspired scares — or, more precisely, a lack of them. For a horror film, Black Creek has little by way of horror. Frightening slasher plots only start up by the third act, and in a film that already lacks atmosphere, this is not redeemable. Beyond the incredibly poor pacing (so badly done, it is a feat in itself) is the fact that nothing about the film is ever scary, nor even creepy. Save for one scene which sets the stage for the rest of the film, any hint of fear is quickly dampened. At a certain point, one wishes that director James Crow had resorted to cheap jump scares — anything to give a thrill to the utter wet blanket of cinema that is Black Creek.
Deadly serious in execution, one can’t excuse the slight plot as B-schlock meant to be laughed at. With a sex scene worthy of Tommy Wiseau and a conclusion that feels as if Shaun of the Dead were played straight, the result is confusing at best. Black Creek basically just misses every mark possible. With unscary horror poorly acted by uncharismatic leads performing the most grating dialogue, one comes close to feeling sympathy (or at least pity) for everyone involved in the making of this film. Thanks to the racism, that pity gives way to pure repulsion; Black Creek is unwatchable. It is a film with the appeal of a damp sock.