Pitchfork (Every Generation has its Monster)
Directed by Glenn Douglas Packard
Written by Darryl F. Gariglio
Runtime 94 minutes
Pioneer motion Pictures/ Uncork’d Entertainment
Exclusive stateside DVD release May/2/2017
For some reason a movie surrounded in festival buzz, slathered in awards in all of its accompanying promo material, grabs my intrigue. This factor alone would more than likely suggest that it was well received on a grand scale. I’ve attended a few festivals/conventions in my time and have had the honor of sitting through a slew of exciting features – Blood Sucking Bastards is one that stands out! – I would whole heartedly recommend. However, I’ve also witnessed a few I would tell others to avoid like the plague (these go without mentioning I’m not usually one to bash others’ productions, I will however promote material I deem worthy of mention).
Pitchfork grabbed my short and curlies – Ouch! – for many reasons, least of all its title. I’ll openly admit that a movie with a moniker such as ‘The Spoon’ would hold more power in this regard, simple reasoning really, the mentioned utensil is overused (also the name of a music festival in Chicago for those that care) and is plastered across hordes of DVD covers (most in conjuncture with movies based in the Midwest and/or off the beaten path) only to be out done by the chainsaw. Sure, the same could be said of Hatchet but it was a fantastic movie (I’ll even go out on a limb and say franchise).
Pitchfork shot entirely on one camera (funfact) opens with a dramatic sweeping vista ripe for growing crops, a scene blanketed in beauty. The opening soundtrack showcases a little ditty I’m sure everyone has sung at one point or another, He’s Got the Whole World in his Hands, very recognizable but a tad creepy when given the cadence it’s currently applied with. Obviously, this adds a certain vibe only seconds in which leaves me pondering on whether it’s too early to ponder upon clichés? A dominant Pitchfork, a farm, corn, hmmm… I wonder will (fanatical) religion rear its ugly head and add to the storyline’ narrative?
Enter stage left, a slim supermodel type, we are all to assume is a farmer’s daughter, with phone in hand waxing lyrical about getting away from the all the duties of the farm entails in order to get wasted, all naturally against her father’s wishes. I pounded the stop button here, in distaste, her manner is all wrong. Her ‘make up’ and hair are too perfect and she carries herself very much unlike someone who would muck a horse’s stable or even assist in the fields – for reference sake I grew up in a small village in the countryside. To make a long story/intro short she loses her looks, an odd end indeed, to the whims of numerous fish hooks. I was of the understanding this would make sense as the movie progresses. It doesn’t! Spoiler alert! The killer isn’t a fisherman, or even someone who partakes in the hobby of constructing flies for the sheer enjoyment of it. This scene however, does bode well for the quality of the FX. I’ve seen worse acting in similar movies but this is still very early on so my fingers are crossed.
The next scene introduces the viewer to the main cast of Pitchfork, a collective of spoiled college kids so diverse I’m left musing on whether the US Govts’ ‘Affirmative Action’ mandate might have had a hand in this movie’s casting process. But I digress. Hunter, Brian Raetz, is the main character, he’s heading home to introduce his folks to the wonderful world of having a gay son whilst also subjecting them to the idiocy of his close friend circle. Off topic, one of his friends has a British accent (sounds Australian) which she openly admits works for her as it has for Madonna. I’ll steal a few seconds here to take umbrage as I’ve lost mine due to being Stateside for over twenty years. OK, now that I’m all over it (wipes a stray tear from a pale cheek) I’ll continue.
It doesn’t take very long for this pirouetting carnival of youth (our future looks doomed indeed) to comment on the fact that they’re surrounded by what has made many a horror movie Deliverance type “creepy” then they jump to the worst of conclusions about the adjacent rural area residents, although one proudly states, tossing a beach ball from one hand to the other, that she’s going to pop an Amish cherry. The mood only perks up from there. Hunter’s dismayed father meanwhile, delivers what could quite possibly be the movies finest one liner (so early on too) by stating” it’s like the Breakfast Club puked on my lawn.” only moments before he turns to his wife to utter “I can’t believe my son’s a fag!” instantly rebuked by her cleverly stating… maybe he gets it from you side of the family. At this point I’m pulling my hair out as I don’t know which ‘side’ to root for.
Not even half way in yet, the acting is horrendous, the dialogue is weak and moments of hilarity appear whenever they ought not. The clichés are aplenty and a slew of early montages have me reaching for a barf bag. Cue the group selfie. Everyone say…’Cornfield’ (yuck!). Yes, I get it, these are fresh faced kids without a care in the world, they’re all we all wish we could have been many moons ago. But does there really need to be a barn dance? An extended scene with a Coyote Ugly/Flashdance type vibe and do we need to keep being reminded that they come complete with an over-abundance of rampant hormones. I don’t wish to be reminded of my youth.
When the carnage commences, I’m rubbing my hands with glee. I can’t wait for these lil bastids to ‘get it’ in the worst ways imaginable. For some reason the slaughter starts in the house, (which is immaculate, by the way, not even a single cobweb in the basement. I find this extremely odd.) After prompting, a little teasing, Dad finds something under the bed (he gets ‘forked up’!) so the joke was on him, but strangely his daughter isn’t amused. Just me?
Meanwhile Techno music and the miscellaneous cacophony from various barn shenanigans covers all the screaming. Hunter’s sister remains afraid of the boogeyman, especially seems as her father met a nasty end though still remains curious as to what it is that her brother and friends are getting up to, also whether her sibling will find a new friend to discuss interior decorator designs with. These worrying thoughts are rapidly forgotten replaced by a plethora of escape routes as the feather faced pitchfork wielding killer (the same one on the DVD cover, there’s no surprise there!) is hot on her trail.
Bored with splashing claret and sharpening his farm utensil indoors the killer chooses to change his hunting radius. The burning question…does he prefer Techno or House music? (am I dating myself here?) The united teens, in not such a good mood anymore, minus large amounts of bodily fluids, are soon picked off rather predictably leaving only a few “lucky ones” to devise a plan of escape.
Our killer (portrayed by Daniel Wilkinson) shows promise in a role that demands acting chops. Enacting more animalistic tendencies than human he stalks, disposes and plays with the exciting, brightly colored (that isn’t racist, is it?), city folk. At one point his excitement is palpable as he stares at one of his recently deceased victims, her spread-eagle posture makes him awkward. He fidgets unsure as to what he’s supposed to do next. Much later in the film he mimics some of the behavior he’s witnessed (a scene I call ‘throat sandwich’) to no avail. His nature and overall conduct successfully leaves the audience pondering upon his origins/modus operandi. I have predictions on both based on how the movie is developing bearing in mind all of the abundant clichés offered at every turn.
Predictably the authorities are summoned. This isn’t altogether strange as every child, over seven years of age these days, has a more effective cellular device than yours truly. With sugary treats in hand (cue a blatant advertising spot) a pair in blue canvass the scene, add to the crimson to the same canvas and the killer goes about his duties mostly unperturbed. At this point the remaining survivors have managed to make it to the neighbors for help. This is where the movie flips on its head. Although there have been flashing instances of potential throughout, mostly by way of effective atmosphere and assorted brilliant camera work, one scene in particular stands out. Showcasing the last light of the day finding its way through the trees the killer and his prey, embroiled in a battle of wits, are silhouetted exquisitely. Another scene around this time brings to mind a shocking detail from, in my opinion one of the best horror films of the past fifteen years, Neil Marshall’s spelunking masterpiece Descent.
The last ten minutes are by far the most gruesome, shocking and impressive. The movie develops in intensity as an air of fanaticism and incest taints the atmosphere the neighbors wicked penchants and the killer’s identity are revealed. Hint, it has everything to do with an absence of daylight, a basement, an obvious lack of parental supervision and I would hasten to guess a television watching schedule devoid of Sesame Street but chock full of Jerry Springer reruns.
Pitchfork’s final twist is very predictable. In fact, any movie goer able to yank the top from a soda bottle may well see it coming a mile away. It leaves a sour taste in the mouth after the preceding ten minutes that catapulted the film from its sad state of affairs to another level entirely.
In conclusion, this movie could have been a lot better. I had high hopes based on the amount of festival ‘laurels’ it boasts, perhaps that’s not really an indication after all? Pitchfork suffers from too much of a MTV/VH1 music video culture influence, some may comment on this coming by way of the direction of the movies captain (or sorts), the director Glenn Douglas Packard, who is an Emmy Award Nominated choreographer, director and producer. I agree though would also hasten to add that it stems from insufficient knowledge of what works in the genre, poor writing, unconvincing acting, various scenes that seem a tad out of sync, an explosion of clichés and the fact that the movie seems rather unsure as to whether it wants to play out as a straight slasher/drama or a comedy. If you’ll humor me take a second to think of the consequence of a horrid collision involving Killer Bunny Thing (if you have yet to, search out this deliciously jaded gem, from Finland, out) and the newest Friday the 13th installment (not the greatest, even bearing in mind parts 7 and 8) and you might be somewhat close to what this movie wants/means/had hopes to offer.
Here’s the trailer. Crazy freakin’ Finnish movie. You have been warned!
Films in the same arena as this include The Hills Run Red and those in the Wrong Turn franchise, sadly Pitchfork doesn’t come close in any way to either.
Watch at your own risk! At the very least it can be utilized as an ingredient promoting an over indulgence of alcoholic consumption, perhaps it’ll eventually feature in another slasher affair albeit in the background as another assembly of young dumb and full of cum meet their grisly end. If it hasn’t been done already, I give you Spork – because every special tool has an alter ego.
I’m off to take a nap, beating a film to senseless pulp is unexpectedly exhaustive.