Four girls, Tina, Kathy, Jordan, and Stephanie, go to a remote cabin for a weekend getaway. Their relaxing fun soon degenerates into chaos and mayhem as the girls encounter mysterious evil forces inside the cabin.
CYPRESS CREEK amazed me. I thought I was in for a really dreadful experience a few minutes into this one: a heavily overused genre trope in motion, four pretty girls seemingly adlibbing dialogue on their way to the country. I’m thinking, how long is this going to take? But bear with it. I repeat, BEAR WITH IT, because the dull familiarity is exactly the necessary launching point. It’s the only suitable premise for brothers Michael and Gerald Crum to give the last thirty years of horror a few doses of some really bad LSD . . . or bath salts!
The four girls are (of course), looking for a good time. Yeah, yeah, yeah. You think you’ve seen this before. They’re introduced in the typical postmodern fashion: in scenes encapsulated by a freeze frame with their names written on it. They’re headed out of town and start hiking into the cabin they’re planning on staying in. It’s as they strip to their bathing suits and swim across a pond you notice the lighting. It’s so natural and dark and shadowy. It looks good. You’re glad some bold aesthetic moves are being taken with the cinematography. It’s at the same moment you notice some grating, ambient music ala TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE playing, and the movie’s credibility starts to unmask itself. After that, it never lets up.
They reach the cabin and it’s not long before weird, creepy, unexplainable things start happening. There is an old doll, which is cursed, a scrambled television on in the dark (Hello, POLTERGEIST), a tape recorder (Thanks, EVIL DEAD), and a lurking, fat zombie thing wandering around. After Stephanie steps outside, sees some kind of ghost, and is sucked into a puddle of blood/mud, the possessions start in.
The girls are taken over one by one and those still normal can find no explanation for the grotesque events, other than the voice of an eccentric academic on a tape recorder who says: “It wants to be a part of you . . . almost in a childlike nature . . . but I’m not sure if it’s before or after it kills you.” Thus is the plunge you take into a blood-drenched hallucination synthesizing references to seemingly every influential horror film since the 1970’s.
Thank God, CYPRESS CREEK isn’t afraid to be totally crazy. You never know when someone might break into a folk dance wearing an animal mask (YOU’RE NEXT?), or find a table-saw blade stuck in their hand, or a beer mirage seguing into a knife through the hand. It’s pure lunacy. It’s like a Herschell Gordon Lewis movie in a lot of ways, too, but self-aware. Yes, it’s about as gory as can be. I had to look away at its little ode to ICHI THE KILLER. You know. The tongue scene. Ouch.
Hats off to its visuals, too. The camerawork is just as nuts as its surrealistic story (or whatever it has in the way of narrative—I’m not quite sure.) The possibilities of what I assume to be a consumer-grade digital camera are explored with fervor. The makers of this one are able to really make due with the small resources they have—and do better than most low budget films, too. There are all kinds of lighting tricks, a great use of darkness and shadows, and general, disjointed visual craziness.
To say the acting is bad is missing the point. It’s hard to care about the performances, and they only add to the film’s surreal feel. Hell, it’s probably intentional.
This is a great underground horror flick, which, unfortunately doesn’t seem yet to have much of an audience. That’s a shame. I hope it finds one. It’s more than deserving. Overall, CYPRESS CREEK is brilliant—wildly entertaining and gruesome. See it!