Monsoon-A-Day ‘Victor Crowley’ (2018)

Welcome to Monsoon-a-day.

Where I watch and review a movie a day. Or whenever I fucking feel like it.

Day 93

 

There’s no fan base on planet Earth as hardcore as a horror fan. Tons may worship at the alter of Lucas and his cult but even the most fanatical of Star Wars acolytes can’t hold a candle to the dedication of a horror junkie. There’s something about the combination of tits and blood that inspires die hard defenders of the genre. Fans will champion the schlock-iest schlock if there’s even a sliver of something interesting in it, which I believe is what separates them from every other fanbase.

Star Wars fans will never not bitch about something. Han shooting first, Lucas raping their childhood, the unaltered trilogy on blu-ray, the prequels, the new series, Jar Jar Binks, slave leia, Rey not getting enough toys, yada yada yada. It’s a fanbase built upon the backs of titty babies but they’re not the only ones.

Superhero movie fans are just as bad. They’ll whine that Rotten Tomatoes unfairly targets DC films even though the site is owned by Warner Bros and some even complained that Gal Gadot was miscast as Wonder Woman because her breasts weren’t big enough.

Anything popular will eventually get tainted by its fan base. (Seriously. Rick and Morty is almost ruined for me now because of that goddamn szechuan sauce debacle.)

Maybe I’m biased or maybe I’m wearing rose tinted glasses but horror fans feel like the only group that’s bonded over loving the thing they love. Horror fans are like men. They bond over a common interest. Cars, sports, grills, etc. Every other fanbase are like women. They’ve bonded over hating a bitch. Usually named Monica.

I think a lot of that stems from the fact that most fans of the genre were outsiders. They weren’t the most popular kids in school. They were loners. They spent their free time either reading Fangoria magazine or making no budget films in their backyard. They figured out how to properly mix food dye with corn syrup to make the best fake blood. (Two words: Dish soap. You’ll thank me later.)

These morbid curiosities would eventually make them even more isolated from everyone else because while a special effects enthusiast admires the craft behind creating disgusting imagery, everyone else just sees violent pornography.

It’s the perfect set of ingredients to create a lifelong devotee. Mix one outsider who’s passion is vilified by everyone around him, add a genre that’s still not accepted by the general populace, with a pinch of having to constantly defend said genre and voila! You got yourself a die-hard horror fan.

That groundwork is the fundamental difference between horror fans and everyone else. No one else has to defend their genre. No one is ridiculed or looked at differently if they say they love Game of Thrones or Spider-Man 27 but there’s not a person alive that will admit to liking A Serbian Film in public.

It’s part and parcel of the fandom. Sticking up for the schlock, championing the little guy and having the guts to defend the blood and guts. Which is a pun that sounded much better in my head.

Which leads me to Adam Green.

Probably the least successful or well known of the infamous “Splat Pack” (a term coined by notable film critic Alan Jones to describe the huge influx of violent horror directors), Green was nevertheless my favorite of the group. Where everyone else was hitching their wagons to torture porn or mindless gore fests, Green decided to homage the slasher films of the 80’s with his directorial debut Hatchet.

Hatchet was a meat and potatoes horror film. You got a killer, you got some lore as to why he’s killing and you got yourself some victims. It’s charming in its simplicity and that’s why I enjoy it. He set out to make another icon like Jason Voorhees and while Victor Crowley didn’t come close to reaching that level of popularity or success, I’ve always admired the effort.

I even admired the effort that went into the mythology. Each sequel reveals a little more of the lore without ever retconning a previous bit of history. It was a trilogy that was mapped out long before the first film ever came out.

But a mythology can only get you so far. As interesting (interesting used comparatively here) as the backstory is and as cool as the big bad looks, It’s a series of diminishing returns. Each sequel is a vast drop off in quality compared to each previous entry. It became a series I admired more than I liked with a director I kept rooting for.

That is until I saw Victor Crowley.

I can’t defend Adam Green anymore.

Victor Crowley is so bad, it retroactively made me dislike the first film. The original Hatchet had charming design choices that I originally thought were  due to its small budget and  inexperienced director but I now know are the trademarks of an inept filmmaker. Victor Crowley was released almost a decade to the day of the first film and he hasn’t grown as a filmmaker in the slightest.

Victor Crowley takes place a decade after the first film with the paramedic of the third entry (there’s a running gag throughout the franchise that the same actor that plays the paramedic plays a different character in each film because all Asians look the same. It’s a lot less racist than it sounds) becoming an author detailing the whole horrific affair.

Since nobody believes the ghost of killer butchered 45 people, everyone accuses him of being the actual murderer. Since his life and career are in shambles and he’s in desperate need of some money, he agrees to film a ten year retrospective about the whole thing at the actual swamp where it all took place.

Running concurrent to that story, is a group of wannabe filmmakers who desperately want to make a film about Victor Crowley and go to the swamp for authenticity. They Google the actual spell that had cursed him originally (I said the mythology is interesting, I didn’t say it made sense) to use in opening shot of the film and wouldn’t you know it, the kids done fucked up.

Victor Crowley is now back and two different groups of people have to team up to survive a night in his swamp. In terms of explaining how the monster comes back yet again, the premise is far better than most of the ways writers have tried to bring back Freddy or Jason. It uses its own mythology and I think that’s a clever approach.

That’s about the only clever thing about this film though. Almost every character is annoying, almost every performance is terrible–one of the comedians from the show Impractical Jokers gives the best performance and that’s not a slight against him (because he’s actually surprisingly good in it), that’s just a huge indication of the quality on display here, every character is poorly written, every emotional beat is undercut with a stupid ass joke and the script is piss poor (the dilemma of whether or not they should leave the safety of the airplane to save a pregnant woman trapped under debris that will eventually drown due to the plane slowly sinking is actually really solid but at no point in the film does anyone try to block the hole to keep the water from coming in.)

Almost no part of this film works except for Kane Hodder as the titular character. Known famously as giving the best performance of Jason Voorhees in the Friday the 13th films, Hodder is actually better in this than all of his Jason work combined. Victor Crowley is a vicious monster. He doesn’t just kill you, he eviscerates you and Hodder is relishing the opportunity to go as crazy as he can. The film is a flatline that only spikes when he’s on screen.

This film has now solidified the fact that with the exception of James Wan, the entirety of the “Splat Pack” were one hit wonders.