Pitchfork (2016) – By Baron Craze

 

Choreographer Glenn Douglas Packard took great strides in bringing his first directorial debut to a solid conclusion, Pitchfork, follows much of the standard playbook on slasher features, with a few variations and all of it surprising shot with limited equipment, time and budget. As is true with most films in this vein, the opening contains an early killing, and then settling down before ramping up the finale, and Packard sticks with what works best, a smart move. Although, it is extremely hard to offer something to a tried and test genre, which involves conflict, stalk, kill, and repeat the steps again, Packard who wrote the script with Darryl F. Gariglio with some comedic moments, a dance sequence, and touches briefly on the torture porn, but not longer to inflict any discomfort for the viewers. Needless to say, the killer brings a fresh look and though appears a bit like Freddy, either case Glenn secure distribution through Uncork’d Entertainment.

The start quite tame, but expect in most slashers, a woman walks her dog, as a white van roars by, kicking up dirt and dust all in her direction, this all becomes the opening volley [spoiler] for the first to die, think similar to Annie of Friday the 13th (1980). This tale mainly focuses on (Brian Raetz) Hunter Killian’s first trip home from college since coming out to his parents via a phone call not the ideal manner, now returning home, to their Michigan farm with a van load of friends for support. Early on a bit of misplaced liberal thought to have overwhelmingly in-your-face sexual decorated van, to arrive at his parents’ place, to confront his displeased father and to have a barn dance, sounds very logical – maybe not. Now for the stereotypical and cliché reference, the mother (Carol Ludwick) and horse-whispering little sister, Jenny (Addisyn Wallace) accepting and the father (Derek Reynolds) standoffish, soon the rest the gang welcomed inside in a slightly disrespecting manner, with utterance for setting up a barn dance. As expected his father not too please with son, and their vehicle, all offensive to his ideals and concepts, however thankfully not a long-winded discussion over it, since it’s time to ready the barn for the big party. The barn work consists of moving bales of hay, which hints the rights way (father knows best) and the wrong method, Hunter’s way, then rising nice multiple color lights and other activities. It feels a tad too much like a scene from Footloose, especially when the party starts, Packard explores and uses his well trained skills to choreograph a series of dance, past the typical country line dance. While the scene, looks stellar, and nice cinematography capturing it all, it feels just a tad misplaced. Meanwhile the parents and Jenny entertain themselves inside the house, and the sexual spin starts outside. Flo (Nicole Dambro) who has much gusto for sexual conquests and fulfilling fantrasies, such as taking on an Amish man, in his buggy while Matt (Ryan Moore) encounters (Celina Beach) Lenox, two-timing his girl Clare (Lindsey Nicole). Soon enough the killer (Daniel Wilkinson) deck in an animal skin mask and his left arm has a partial pitchfork appears on the scene slaughtering the thrills and laughter out of everyone.

This killer appears different than the typical ones of slasher, Pitchfork quite skin and bones, barely anything to his frame, and this works both as pro and con. First as pro, he’s agility, swift in his movements and quick speed, for hunting and chasing down his prey, however, this works against him when battling the victims, as he seems superhuman never taking much pain. Packard shows his mindset with his creation for the killer, as it harkens back to none other than Wes Craven’s Freddy Krueger, especially in the scene of scratching his weapon against the wooden boards as Freddy did on the railings at the steam plant. Just one problem the screeching sounds of metal on metalwork effectively well sending shivers to the viewers while metal on wood doesn’t achieve the same fear. A few comical moments occurs, especially when Hunter tries to man-up for macho fight scene, and the later part of the final acts slips very far into torture porn, thanks to (Rachel Carter) as Judy and (Andrew Dawe Collins) as Ben nutty displays of entertainment thrills.

The cinematography of the scenes work extremely well, show the talent that exists from Rey Gutierrez, while he might be short on credits, the eye for the scenes captures the mood and presents tight well meaningful shots. As for the rest of the crew, they all did their jobs most effective, and all of it for a independent film, shows the dedication their individual crafts, however a few times the angle or tempo strays a tad off course, the pacing tries to keep with the action, the final act does falter slightly. The reason it occurs a common most first time directors fall into, the worry that this might be the only time in the director’s chair, hence they throw more angles and aspects seen in the favorites over the years, and this becomes a overload to the set, crew and cast, all affecting the audience. Simply put for the best understanding, think of a recipe, only so much of each ingredient becomes worthy too much and the taste could overpower the other qualities. Herein balancing social aspects of coming out and family dynamics never fully explored to comedic lines, and then back to horror and over to torture porn, too much.

While the movie doesn’t become a gory adventure, even spillage to entertain the fans, and with a playful banter between the characters early leaves the audience entertained and interested in the arc of the story, and geared for the inevitable slaughterfest. The movie guarantees a bloodbath, too many of Hunter’s friends piling out of that van, and hence increase darker moods, and more violent endings for some of the cast members, though does leave the door open for a sequel.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4985848