Film Review: Slaughter Creek (2011)

SYNOPSIS:

In February of 2006, a documentary film crew from Dallas, Texas followed a young woman as she began her career in the p*rn industry. By March, she had disappeared.

REVIEW:

Fake documentaries (or ‘found footage’) films seem to be all the rage at the moment, but they are more often than not, quite a limited field when talking about how to shoot it. However, Slaughter Creek managed to escape these boundaries and so become more flexible with the visuals. Yes, a large portion of it is handheld and rather shaky, but there is a whole mixture in there from interviews to flashbacks. I personally thought that the handheld camera was a good choice as it enhanced that sense of realism, along with the fact that the film was apparently unscripted, which really makes the audience believe that Slaughter Creek is a bona fide documentary.

The documentary that these guys want to make revolves around the p*rn industry, as they want to ‘break open the egg’ (their words, not mine!) of this taboo subject. That all sounds fair enough, but once they begin they get frustrated with the ‘characters’ that they encounter – these women are all fake and unoriginal (not exactly making for a ground-breaking documentary!). But things all change when the group meet Alyssa, a young 19 year old who is an aspiring actress. She’s completely new to the world of p*rn and the group decide that a much more interesting documentary would be to follow Alyssa into her dark descent into this sleazy lifestyle. Despite a rather turbulent relationship amongst the group (involving jealous ex-girlfriend emotional outbursts), they begin making this documentary, only to find that Alyssa mysteriously disappears one day. Foul play is suspected on behalf of one dodgy p*rn producer and so the group set about trying to find and rescue her before it’s too late.

Considering the subject matter of Slaughter Creek (and the title, although I did not initially realise that this is the name of an actual place!), I thought that it was pleasantly restrained in regards to both nudity and gore. It would have been easy to have made a completely gratuitous bloodbath – hell, countless others have – but Slaughter Creek has more emotional depth than that. In many ways, this makes the few scenes we see of violence have much more of an impact. We feel for these girls. We are reminded that they are just people struggling to make some money and don’t particularly get enjoyment out of selling their bodies for cash. Ok, so the male viewers might complain about the lack of sex or even nakedness present (there’s one girl on girl scene where we see some boobs, but that’s your lot!), but I personally feel like this is a positive point. If you want sex, just watch some actual p*rn.

Although it has been claimed that Slaughter Creek is based on actual events, I had a browse through the internet and could find no articles to back up these claims. I don’t think this is necessarily a negative factor though, as I understand the need for filmmaker’s to market their film as best as they can to receive full attention – especially an independent movie with no famous faces in.

I would make the very noticeable comparison to The Blair Witch Project, because both of the films are about a group of young people (two boys and one girl, actually) who are making a documentary – which leads to them getting killed. Obviously, the subject matters of the documentaries in question are completely different (as The Blair Witch Project is more mythical, mystical and otherworldly whereas Slaughter Creek is about the horrific things that human beings can and will do to each other). Even the opening titles are similar, with a simple black screen with white writing stating the facts of what happened, before the audience is taken on the journey for themselves. A difference here is that Slaughter Creek actually has some titles at the end which conclude the story with a bit more information than we received before.


The dialogue was, at times, very quiet and almost inaudible (I had to physically turn my sound up!) which is a real shame, plus some of it sounded a little too ‘fuzzy’. I’m not sure if I really like the ‘present day’ scenes of the interview with the police as these didn’t seem to fit in with the rest of it, but I don’t think it was too jolting. The storyline was a gripping one and the fast-paced, heart pounding sequences made for exciting viewing. It was thrilling to watch, it really was.

The ending was not exactly how I thought it should go, but it wasn’t a total bust. I appreciate the ‘twist’ that the filmmaker’s went for and I can understand why they did it. What I really wanted though, was just some closure on the whole Alyssa thing. We spent pretty much the entire movie worrying about her and hoping she’s alright so it would have been nice to have had a definitive finish to her story.

Taking all of this into account, I felt like Slaughter Creek was a nice surprise for me because it significantly passed my expectations. It was dramatic and gripping to watch, despite any annoying mistakes which cropped up. It is always the sign of a well-told story if the viewer is able to overlook these errors and still continue enjoying the film (perhaps ‘enjoy’ is the wrong word here, but you know what I mean). I found some parts genuinely unsettling and that’s a testament to the acting and to the story, as it was perfectly understated, never losing sight of that realistic feel which was so important to this film. What a gem!

Slaughter Creek (2011)

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