Muck (2015) Content Warning: Violence, Sexual Scenes, Bad Language
Directed by Steve Wolsh
Starring Lachlan Buchanan, Puja Mohindra, Bryce Draper, Stephanie Danielson
After narrowly escaping an ancient burial ground, a group of friends find themselves trapped between two evils, forcing them to fight, die, or go back the way they came.
IMDb Rating: 2.6
Well, Muck is Kinda Appropriate
I happened upon Muck last night, in the depths of Amazon Prime Instant Video. I didn’t really give too much thought to choosing it. I’ve found if you overthink movie choices on streaming services, you end up spending two hours trying to find a movie to watch and then it’s too late to start!
So I gave Muck a shot.
The film begins in media res. Apparently, we join the five survivors of some horrific encounter in the marshes of Massachusetts. Two of their friends have already snuffed it. According to the plot, which I read after viewing, there’s some sort of burial ground horror to be found out there. I have to be honest, I didn’t pick up on that from the dialogue in the film. Maybe I missed something?
Never mind. These five survivors are in various states of distress and undress. Indeed, one performer spends the entire film in her underwear, except for an opening credits scene where she parades around in the nude where much loving attention is paid to her exposed cleavage, while she’s covered in all sorts of muck (heh, get it?).
Boobs, Boobs, Boobs.
In fact, I started to get the impression that this film was made primarily to get a bunch of women to get their kits off. Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. I’m bisexual, and so I do admire the female form. There’s certainly more than a handful of pretty girls in this. However, I do prefer a bit of narrative coherence to go with my cinematic boobs. In one scene, a woman is changing. Meanwhile, one of our five survivors who is supposed to be getting help can’t help and stop but have a gawp. He goes full-on peeping tom, and I got the distinct impression was about to have a crafty wank until the object of his perversions is attacked by the main menace. Really?!
If I’m desperate to see boobs, I’ll give my girlfriend a call. Or, I might go and Google nude pictures of Kitty Lea or Clare Richards. I’ve nothing against skin in films (you kinda have to be okay with that when you’re a female horror and exploitation fan!) but come on, give me a proper reason for them being there!
Okay, Muck’s Not all Terrible
Muck is clearly supposed to be a throwback to the slasher films of yore. Clearly influenced by Scream, Muck engages in some near-fourth-wall-breaking while one character lists off the horror movie rules about who will live and who will die. Presumably, in order to swerve the audience a little, he’s not entirely correct. Further nods to its influences can be found in the setting of West Craven. I might have been a tad more impressed with that reference were it not repeated about fifteen times. It has all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. See Fulci’s Restaurant from Shaun of the Dead for a slightly better-worked reference.
There’s some pretty glaring technical limitations. Many scenes are poorly lit, and for all the gore the makers wanted to display they simply don’t have the budget to do it justice. The film was funded via a Kickstarter campaign which raised around $250,000 so I can forgive that one.
Most of the kills occur off-screen, so the viewer only sees the blood splatter and implied carnage. In one rather peculiar scene, a witness to a presumably grizzly death simply stands there while blood is shot at her like a morbid bukkake.
But What’s It All About?
Now this is a question! As I mentioned, I never really understood the burial ground plot from the film. What I did get is a bunch of strange folk who look like albino-Thenns from Game of Thrones are running amok (or amuck… heh, get it? Oh I slay me!) slaughtering people for… reasons. There is a hint at a sexual motivation, as they like to strip their female victims but their motivations are never explained. Friday the 13th‘s Kane Hodder apparently leads the group of murderous albinos, or possibly he was just given high-billing because the average horror fan will know who he is?
What we can take from it though is that there’s evil all around and no one understands why. So, to be fair, it’s got the old-school horror movie roots of unexplained mayhem down. It’s just a shame I cannot trust this isn’t just sloppy writing.
The film plays around with time, a little, which is a tad disorientating. You see different things from different point-of-views. It’s a little bit of style, but Tarantino it is not, and I don’t think it had the right effect. Too often, this desire to muck around (sorry) with narrative linearity results in rather dull talking bits from characters I really never cared about.
Therein Lies the Problem
And that is one of the biggest issues with this movie – everybody is a dumbass that I couldn’t give two shits about. It might be that we’re going back to the Scream-style self-awareness and the age old horror trope of characters doing silly things that accelerate their certain demise. I can’t help but think, though, that we’re actually looking at a film set around an idea (boobs and blood), a couple of planned set-pieces and a story written to accommodate these flimsy ideas.
I’m used to slasher films giving us a bunch of one-dimensional characters to bump off for a cheap-thrill. Generally, however, I want to see at least one or two characters that I can invest in and want them to survive. I didn’t give a crap about anyone in this film!
If it’s not clear, I’m not a fan. I don’t think it’s terrible enough to deserve a 2.6 rating on IMDb (as of time of writing) but it’s not good. Apparently, it’s part of a planned trilogy and they released the middle film first because that seems reasonable. I can say that it’s actually not too badly acted and it’s short-enough that I could just about stave off boredom. There’s too much pointless dialogue, too little story and dare I say it? Too many of these without a narrative purpose…
Here’s a trailer, if you care: