Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Swamp Devil (2008)

A girl is murdered in some woods, and then seventeen years later, a teenage woman is also killed.  Not longer after this, Melanie Blaime receives a call telling her that her father - whom she coincidentally hasn't seen in about seventeen years - is dying, and asking her to return to her old hometown to see him.

Daddy Blaime isn't actually dying, though: instead he's the prime suspect for the more recent murder, even though the evidence against him seems to amount to "he says there's a monster in the swamp so he must be crazy".  Of course, being the kind of movie this is, it's no spoiler to say that Pops is right on the money about the monster thing.

Making genuinely scary movies is actually a pretty tough thing to do well, which is why a lot of horror films don't bother to try.  Check out the later entries in just about any slasher franchise, for instance, and the overall tone is likely to be more pitched at shocks and thrills than building any real atmosphere or tension - to the point where it's debatable if they are horror films at all.

Swamp Devil is similarly bereft of any real scares, not least because the monster encounters are staged more as action sequences than anything else, but I think its claim to being a horror film is pretty sound, nonetheless, as it hits a lot of tried and true 'vengeful spirit' story beats.  I also give it points for not dragging out the mystery too long, allowing it to get down to monster antics around the halfway point of the film.

The restrictions imposed by its made-for-TV budget mean that Swamp Devil is probably only worthwhile for hard core horror film aficionados.  That's something of a shame, though, as there's the kernal of a decent film in here, and I could certainly see myself raiding the basic plotline for use in a Halloween roleplaying game.

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