Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Horror Film Review

Unearthed (2007):  Good news!  We now know what happened to the Anasazi.  It seems that mysterious and ancient Native American tribe was bumped off by an Alien/Predator lovechild.  Sounds like a premise that would make for an exciting creature feature.  Ah, if only...

In the remote Four Corners region of the U.S., something awoke from a very long nap and is not only cranky but a bit peckish.  An unlikely series of events begins when a tanker truck clips it on the road, flips over, and effectively barricades the highway...which just happens to be the only route to civilization.  Also, and for reasons I can't quite work out, the accident cut power to everyone in the county.  Alcoholic sheriff Annie Flynn (Emmanuelle Vaugier), alcoholic because of some vague on-the-job trauma, investigates the accident and takes a piece of the critter to an amateur botanist who lives with her grandfather (Russell Means) and is a descendant of the Anasazi.  Four stranded travelers (fodder) have taken advantage of Grandpa's hospitality and unfortunately are in attendance with Sheriff Annie when the creature attacks.  Annie escapes with a few others, and she takes them to the camp of rogue archaeologist Kale (Luke Goss), a man who's slightly nuts but knows exactly what's going on and, apparently, how to kill it.  Anasazi pottery inscriptions detail the recipe of a potion of sorts.  He tries it.  Doesn't work.  The granddaughter figures out the missing ingredient is uranium.  No, really.  Then it's lots of running and fighting and dying until in the end, Annie squares off with the marauding ET and chooses a surprising yet effective course of action.

The filmmakers overly complicated things at nearly every turn.  Unimportant characters are given unnecessary backstories while important characters aren't given adequate ones.  The reason the creature wiped out the Anasazi is totally glossed over as is why bullets won't kill it but tiny amounts of uranium will.  Not the first time common sense is sacrificed for the sake of action.  And there are a number of...irritants.  The power is out, but when Annie opens her fridge door, the light comes on.  Annie's driving a truck while shooting a shotgun.  Possible, sure; however, her left hand is on the steering wheel, the shotgun in her right when we hear the pump shotgun getting pumped.  How?  In her position, it's simply not possible.  Actually, the only one-handed pumping of a shotgun that I can recall is Arnold in Terminator 2.  I'm the last person on earth to say anything disparaging about women, but Annie is no Arnie.

The Skinny

Acting:  Vaugier, Goss, and Means are pros and do all right.  The majority of supporting players, whom I lovingly refer to as fodder, do a bit less than all right.
Story:  Part Alien, part Predator, and part Tremors so not remotely unique and unfortunately, not remotely interesting.
Direction:  It could have used some.
Production Values:  Shot on location in Utah and one of After Dark's 8 Films to Die For, it looks ok.  That's not the problem.  No budget data, but I'm guessing less than a million.
Gore/FX:  The gross factor is shockingly high, so it does have that going for it.  The CGI is on par with SyFy Channel's original movies.  Yeah, pretty bad.
Scares:  There were a few.  Could have knocked me over with a feather.
Ending:  Again with the feather.  It didn't suck.
Verdict:  Should you see Unearthed?  Nah.  Go watch the Alien, Predator, and Tremors movies again.  Except for Alien 3.  That one was just plain stinky.

Rating:  2 out of 5

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