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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

MUCK -- DVD Review by Porfle

Slasher movies have become so predictable these days that first time writer-director Steve Wolsh decided to dispense with the entire opening set-up, plunk his dopey teen characters right in the middle of the MUCK (2015)--namely, a swamp in Cape Cod--and get things started with a big, wet squish.

I'm still not sure how they got there or why two of their number are already dead, but after we watch dumb blonde Mia (Lauren Francesca) slog around in her underwear for awhile the rest of her group emerge from the darkness in a similar state of panic and confusion. Before long they've stumbled upon a big, empty house to break into for shelter and, hopefully, a phone. (Which, as you might guess, it doesn't have.)

Now that we've already got the same old group of teens into the same old isolated location so they can be killed off one at a time, MUCK takes a moment to get meta (a la SCREAM) as the badly-wounded Billy (Grant Alan Ouzts) not only points out the slasher-flick familiarity of their predicament but also matches the members of the group with their movie counterparts (dumb blonde, guy who goes for help and never comes back, probable final girl).

Naturally, as soon as they get into the house, members of the gang start doing just what you'd expect--namely, wandering off by themselves. After Noah (Bryce Draper) sets off on a cross-country jog for help, his girlfriend Kylie (Stephanie Danielson) ventures into the dark, scary cellar, which is exactly what any normal person would do in that situation. Except me. Meanwhile, Desiree (Laura Jacobs), another dumb blonde (this movie has at least two or three), goes upstairs to take a shower so that we can watch her take a shower.

Noah makes it to a nearby bar, but instead of immediately calling for help he goes into the men's room to "freshen up" and then buys himself and some ditzy party girl a shot of tequila--you know, while his pal Billy is back at the house practically bleeding to death. Finally he borrows her cell phone and calls not the police but his cousin Troit (Lachlan Buchanan), who's in another bar somewhere, to come and rescue them.

To pass the time while waiting for the killings to begin, the story wanders off on little tangents such as an extended conversation between Troit and a Hindu girl named Chandi (Puja Mohindra) which has a vague air of "Tarantinoesque" about it as does the way the script plays around with time. Little shout-outs to other genre films include a location known as "West Craven", which is repeated three or four times so we'll be sure to "get" it.

And then there's the scene of Troit's gorgeous girlfriend Terra (Playboy's 2012 Playmate of the Year Jaclyn Swedberg) primping in the bathroom mirror for about five minutes, during which the movie might be more appropriately titled "Fap-tasm." What we don't know at this point is that once the action finally starts, it'll be pretty much non-stop so the movie wants to get an ample amount of quality T 'n' A under its belt while there's still time. (Noah actually stops off on his way back to the house in order to peep through some blinds at Miss Cape Cod 2013, Audra Van Hees, as she parades topless around her living room.)

From that point on, you really can't call MUCK "scary" or "horrific" as much as it is wildly frenetic. Once Noah, Troit, and the rest are ensconced in the house again with an army of pasty-skinned "creepers" (we never find out quite what they are) swarming through the windows, it's all just a bunch of blood-drenched sound and fury that's both amusing and tiresome in equal measures.

Deadpan melodrama rubs shoulders with tongue-in-cheek humor (several of Troit's lines are giggle-worthy) and the performances are okay (especially by Lauren Francesca's ass, which gets special billing at the end). Don't expect to see much of Kane Hodder, though--aside from one juicy kill, it looks like they're saving him for the direct follow-up which, according to IMDb, is in pre-production under the title "Muck: Feast of Saint Patrick" and is the reason that this movie has such an abrupt and unsatisfying ending.

The DVD from Anchor Bay is in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen with Dolby 5.1 sound and subtitles in English and Spanish. No extras.

MUCK is so willfully derivative that you start hoping it's going to spoof the genre in some clever way, which it kinda does to one degree or another. It's certainly somewhat different, and there are moments in which I was entertained. But mainly it's like one of those dark, irrational, unpleasant dreams that drags on too long before you're finally allowed to wake up.

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