Creature Unknown (2004) – By Timothy Martinez

If the horror movie genre is to be believed, getting a bunch of friends together in a secluded location is pretty much the same thing as having one’s death certificate signed – especially if you are a high school or college student. It doesn’t matter that it appears as if the ripe old age of thirty is creeping up on you in much the same manner that a race horse “creeps up” to the finish line, proclaiming yourself to be under the age of twenty two is all it takes. Journeying to that secluded spot in order to commemorate some occasion or drudge up something from the past only increases the chances of you returning home in a body bag…or worse, bags. It is a wonder then, that anyone goes anywhere anymore in a group of four people or more.

Creature Unknown is a film that is centered around one such outing undertaken by a bunch of people whom the film says are in the early twenties, but who look a few years older than that. This bunch has come together four years after their high school graduation (and presumably immediately after their completion of college…though some might be on the five-year plan, who knows) at the behest of one guy. It seems all these people were at one time a pretty tight-knit group of friends, but the events of that fateful graduation night as well as life pushing them down different paths, has led to them distancing themselves from one another. Apparently on that night, these eight friends were partying it up in celebration, getting hammered, screwing and all the usual stuff. The location for this romp? A secluded cabin in the woods owned by the parents of Steve and Wes – who happen to be twins. Somewhere along the line, Wes vanishes into the trees and is never seen again, even after an intensive search. This puts a real damper on things and the group of friends all go their separate ways. Until now. Steve wants everyone to get together one last time at the old cabin so they can properly say good-bye to Wes, who’s body was never found (CLUE).

So amid occasional arguing, sniping at one another, mutual recrimination and other boring melodramatics, these guys all pile into a van and make their way back to the cabin and settle in.

Unbeknownst to these clowns, a mysterious monster is roaming the same woods and killing any one who crosses it’s path. There is also some big-breasted woman who is attempting to capture the beast. All too soon, people are going for walks in the woods and not returning. The bodies begin to pile up and the usual plot developments ensue. The woman trying to capture the monster shows up long enough to warn all the young people away…which they naturally ignore. It turns out Steve remembers her as a neighbor who’s son died. A doctor of some kind, she was brought up on charges for some un-ethical experiments in her attempts to save her son’s life. Now she seems to be living in an abandoned army bunker nearby. As the chaos rages on, the secrets of that night four years past begin to see the light of day and their connection to modern day events are soon made clear. Raise your hand if you’ve connected all the dots and have already pieced together the origin of the monster and why it hates this particular group so much. Ok, hands down. One last thing – without overtly spoiling too much, let me just remind you that Steve and Wes were twins…twins that didn’t seem to get along too well at times and had reason to be envious of one another. Got that? Ok, now you should be able to see the big “twist” about five miles in advance.

Despite the presence of a monster, the one of the aspect of this film that I found hardest to believe was how all these people so readily agreed to this gathering. Four years have passed since things ended on a bad note, yet now they drop everything to accompany Steve back to where things first hit the fan. I don’t know about anyone else, but I have no desire to see my own family much of the time, let alone people I have not seen in four years and who were part of a life I no longer live. The rest of the movie adheres to all the old slasher cliches, just substitute a man in rubber suit reminiscent of the Creature From the Black Lagoon’s Gillman in lieu of a maniac wielding an assortment of cutlery. The characters make some truly incomprehensible and outright stupid decisions, almost warranting their demise because of such colossal idiocy. The monster suit looks really great, but still it is obvious that that is what it is – a suit. The drama…well, the drama is just plain bad. Again, the moron people in this film make it hard to care about any one them. I mean, what kind of idiot invites six other people for a weekend stay in the woods, and then only packs one small cooler’s worth of food and drinks? Overall, this film is much like the chips they end up scarfing down – momentarily filling, but not too good for you.

Final Grade: 2.5 out of 5