Director King Jeff, who did a wonderful short film 5 Miles Straight Ahead, which showed at the Terror Film Festival in 2013, now presents his first feature film, Shallow Creek Cult, a found footage horror film, with his actual real life brother, Gorio co-starring. This film comes far under the micro-budget level, and landing on the no-budget level of only $2,000, perhaps some call it a z-grade production horror film still finding some success muddle in the storyline. In a genre, that welcomes independent films and their filmmakers into the clutches of dedicated horror fans, with A-list, B-movie and even the Z-grade there’s always room for all to enjoy. Jeff accomplishes what and where many other aspiring filmmakers fail, without any necessary funds; he completed and marketed his film to the masses. Before diving into the film, one must acknowledge the crew and cast, of which consisted of only two men, King Jeff and his brother, they wear all the hats on the job, and the terrorizing creatures this serves as a great feat to do for a horror film, and yet slight issue in filming.
Jeff’s plot contains some originality, which helps maintain interest in the film, with the concept of brothers taking the ashes of their Grandfather to Shallow Creek, Louisiana to scatter them, and add in comical moments in the early portion of the film. Soon enough thought terror starts, with a sacrificing demonic cult, members possessed looking creatures chase the brothers and they lose the keys to their vehicle, with stumble into a cabin in the woods. The cabin, or house in manner appears as empty and with many surveillance cameras, however soon enough the homeowner remains in some version in the home, but the cult knows exactly where they ran too and how to seek them out. The film struggles in some parts, especially the documentary form of why to film the trip, and then capturing the footage of the house’s cameras, also the dialogue feels forced, one wonders if a script existed or just a general outline. The brothers fight scene with the demonized cult members contains mostly off camera muffled sounds, sorry gore-hounds not much violence or gross-out scenes likely due to the fact that the budget lack the funds for that issue. This also leads to the fact that Shallow Creek Cult, tallies well under the customary 90-minute horror movie standard, and rather clocks about 70-minutes, sadly a little more of cast or at least someone efficient with basic makeup skills create a special cult creatures. The creature cult members appear as black robe and hood individuals or the old styled mask intruder, and again no more than two appear on the screen at once and all parties lack emotion. An interest moral dilemma appears in the film, a baby in danger place outside one of the doors of the house, and obvious temptation and trap, with the brother arguing over to rescue or sacrifice the child. Their decision affects the relationship and has them wondering which is worse, them or the cult members, as both take the sacrifice of the innocent to their valid points.
As for production quality the sound fades at times, and that might due to delays in the lack of script and the stumbling for words leading to mumbles, as the actors sound like a mouth filled with marbles. In additional, the playing of the DVD, does not have a clear play movie button, rather the film enters to the chapter or scene choice menu, adding some frustration, a purchase of a better DVD menu software program – a must buy.
The new sub-genre of found footage films continues yet again, as like many previous films, V/H/S (2012), Paranormal Activity (2007), Mortal Remains (2012) and likely the first film to start the free-flow of this genre The Blair Witch Project (1999). Jeff, sites some of these films as a direct influence for his creation, as the “rawness and realistic acting” heavy influence those films, and his production.
King Jeff definitely struggles with his production, and feels the story needs a bigger bolstering crew and a remake of the film, and expand the fight sequence and more about the cult to and make a full 90-minute feature. If one recalls, Sam Raimi did the similar with his $1,600 budgeted Within the Woods (1978) and keep fine-tuning to he accomplished the task of acquiring the necessary funds and the Raimi’s film became The Evil Dead (1983) turn into success and a fantastic career. Therefore, Jeff’s film can be this or perhaps expanding on his very good horror war short film into a feature with an already solid storyline and provides justified outrage and suspenseful scenes. Overall, his film lacks tension, which greatly improves any plot, however demonstrates and original story with a twist for an ending especially in the found footage market.