2015 - 90 minutes
Directed by: Steve Wolsh
Written by: Steve Wolsh
Starring: Lachlan Buchanan, Puja Mohindra, Bryce Draper, Stephanie Danielson, Laura Jacobs, Grant Alan Ouzts, Lauren Francesca, Jaclyn Swedberg, Kane Hodder
Muck is a horror film that’s extremely difficult to get through. Not because of its mastery of genre or building of atmosphere, but because of its abject awfulness. It has some of the staples – gore, T & A, stupid character decisions, poor acting, poorer dialogue, and even Kane Hodder killing people, but just mashing these things together doesn’t automatically tweak our ‘80s nostalgia. Here, the tropes are mixed with no rhyme or reason, making for a supremely unpleasant slog.
Incoherence is actually a momentary strength in the movie’s opening scene. A group of five friends emerge from a marsh, dirty and bloodied. The three girls are in various stages of undress. One of the two guys is mortally wounded. They know for sure one of their other friends is dead and another is missing. They spot a house and take refuge.
A promising start, but instead of a tense situation where they, and we, try to make sense of what’s going on, the group exchanges lame jokes and painfully constructed quips. Mood is the first casualty. After that’s dead, we couldn’t care less what happens to these imbeciles.
The idiots who stay in the house get stalked and killed by musclebound albinos carrying torches and axes. One of the girls gets naked first. The non-injured guy, Noah (Bryce Draper), who goes for help makes it to a bar – fairly quickly, by the way – and instead of getting assistance from patrons, local authorities, or paramedics for his wounded buddy, he orders a shot and washes up in the bathroom. The girls in the bathroom next to him admire their bodies in the mirror. Eschewing emergency services, Noah borrows a cell phone and calls his intoxicated cousin Troit (Lachlan Buchanan) for help. Troit is at another bar with two more women – one of which goes to the bathroom to try on different bras.
Noah then runs back through town to his doomed friends, stopping to look through a window and stare at a topless local woman. Maybe she can help them or call the cops? Nah, let’s just admire her boobs for a bit. Apparently, no one in the town of West Craven (get it horror geeks?!) is worth asking to lend a hand.
Troit and his two ladies arrive just as more albinos emerge from the marsh. There’s more bloodshed, more horrible jokes, and absolutely no logic behind any of it. We have no idea who the silent, murderous villains are. We have no idea why they’re afraid of the marsh. We also have no idea why anybody thought anything in this movie would be a good idea. All involved seem to know that they’re making trash and try desperately to have fun with it, but none of it is inspired and all of it is forced. Different elements are horrible enough on their own, and even worse together. The constantly dark cinematography is muddy instead of atmospheric, the comedy is insipid, and the spurts of nonsensical mayhem are filled with slow motion and quick cuts befitting of a Nine Inch Nails video from 1994.
Writer/director Steve Wolsh has warned that Muck was planned as the middle part of a trilogy, with a prequel and then a sequel to come. At least that’s somewhat of an explanation as to why there’s really no beginning and no end to this movie, but it doesn’t explain why we’re forced to watch what amounts to a bland second act that’s been stretched to feature length. We can only hope the unspoken threats in the marsh are all of the production materials for the additional Muck installments. With any luck they’ll be lost to the quagmire before the movies can be made.