Friday, January 13, 2017
DIRECTOR: Glenn Douglas Packard
Glenn Douglas Packard
Darryl F. Gariglio
Hunter is a young gay man who has just recently come out to his small town, farming parents. After telling his parents, he decides to take a road trip home with a group of friends in hopes that they will be there as his support network. When the group finally arrive, they decide to throw a huge barn dance and party, little do they realise that a bloodthirsty killer is out for blood and begins to pick them off, one by one.
So when it comes to the realm of horror cinema, we don't have a lot of horror movies that deal directly with LGBT characters at the forefront of their story. Sure there are plenty of horror movies that have LGBT characters in them, I just think it's extremely rare to find one that sees a gay character play the only survivor or lead. When I think about LGBT-led horror movies, I can pretty much name them all on the one hand. The most notable being Hellbent, Otto, and Dahmer.
I've noticed that when I watch a horror movie that has gay characters written into the story. They usually play the supporting characters. They are either killed off early, or they are complete stereotypes. I often sense that the writer or director has seen one episode of Will & Grace and ran with it. I think they assume that's what all gay people are like, yet we have so many colours, hence the rainbow. It isn't that hard to write an LGBT character who is a hardened survivor.
Going into Pitchfork, I wasn't aware that this movie was a gay-themed horror film. In my defence, I hadn't witnessed the trailer for the film. However, you think I would've clicked when the poster features a blood-thirsty, masked killer who has a hairy chest, ripped abdominal muscles and a mask that looks like he's just left a furry convention. This is a movie that has a gay lead character who is essentially the survivor. It's what I've wanted to see more of in horror cinema.
Sadly, Pitchfork has a lot of serious problems. The plot is about a gay man who has just come out to his small town, close-minded, farming parents. Coming out to your parents is a terrifying situation. The way Pitchfork decides to handle this moment is over the top. What could've been a chance to build tension or unease between father and son is taken in the completely opposite direction. The guy decides to bring along his group of friends for moral support. You know, to give the film a more substantial body count and this is where the film lost me.
Instead of taking the 'coming out' moment seriously, which I would've preferred. The moment is played for laughs which fell into cheesy territory. You've travelled home to visit your folks after you've dropped such a large bombshell on them and you decide to bring along your entire group of friends who appear to be a 'New York City' dance troupe? They've also decorated the van with LGBT positive slogans and rainbow flags. You want to ease your parents into a situation like this, and instead, you've decided to paint your van like a 'Mardi Gras' float. I wasn't buying it.
I found myself immediately disliking every character. The seven mates who tag along range from three rake-thin female dancers. We have a woman who is almost full-term pregnant. One is sleeping with her own friend's douche-bag boyfriend. The one doing the cheating when suddenly in danger asks her friend that she's just betrayed 'If she is going to throw their friendship away?' when the friend tries to leave her behind. If that were me, I'd have used her body as a human shield. The male characters are no better in Pitchfork. We have the jock who is clearly homophobic, uneducated and tells our main gay man to 'simply not be gay' if he's worried what his parents think. Why bring along someone so toxic? It made no sense to me.
His family is no better, and the dialogue continues to be atrocious throughout. The father is the worst casting I've seen in a slasher in quite some time. The father looks the same age as his gay son. It's not believable and ruins the illusion of their father and son dynamic. We have a crazy hillbilly woman trying to turn our main character straight. She tries this by pouring piss on his head and sitting on his lap. If this were Donald Trump, she might have gotten laid. The killer is the most fun character in the film. He doesn't utter much of anything and kills these poorly written characters.
The story is pretty straightforward from this point on. Minus the campest barn dance, you've ever seen committed to celluloid. Which sees all of the woman doing a Jessica Simpson, "These Boots Are Made For Walking' styled dance number with the colourful lights, quick flashy cuts, and pumping house music. You could be forgiven for thinking you were suddenly watching a Kesha music video. We also have an Amish bloke show up and a random gay cowboy who flirts with the main character but is never seen or heard from again. This is the result of a choreographer doing a slasher film.
The movie doesn't get much better. It moves from the killer butchering all the friends, one by one until we have the inevitable hillbilly neighbours you believe will help them, and they turn out to be connected to the masked killer. You know, the plot twist that every Texas Chain Saw Massacre movie has used forever. Trust me, it's not exactly a spoiler when you will guess the twist coming from a mile away. It really isn't all that surprising or shocking.
Lastly, Pitchfork has some rather gorgeous cinematography, the opening tracking shot over the cornfield was impressive. This is above average when it comes to a lot of the camera work. The film concerning tension and suspense is basically non-existent. The blood and gore will keep most horror fans happy. A lot of the death scenes as the title would suggest, mainly involve a pitchfork, so they do get a little boring by the fourth or fifth kill as it feels like we've seen it all before. Still, it has a high body count which should keep people happy.
DEATH TOLL: 15
BLOOD AND GORE:
- A dog is killed off-screen.
- A woman appears to be stabbed in the face with a pitchfork.
- A man is stabbed with a pitchfork when he looks under the bed.
- A woman is stabbed with a pitchfork offscreen.
- A pregnant woman is stabbed in the neck.
- A man is stabbed in the head.
- A man has an axe thrown into his back.
- The killer slashes a woman's face and arm.
- The killer stabs a woman in the stomach with a pitchfork.
- Two police officers bodies are shown.
- A son stabs his father in the stomach.
- A woman is tied up with barb wire.
- A man is hung from a tree by a chain.
- The killer tears out a woman's neck with his teeth.
- Knives slammed into someone's head.
- Fingers are blown off with a gun.
- A man is stabbed in the hand.
- Someone staples a head wound shut.
- A woman gets stabbed in the side of the head with a pitchfork.
- A woman pisses in a jar and pours it over someone's head.
- A woman is stabbed in the stomach with a pitchfork.
- Someone is impaled with a metal pole then repeatedly stabbed with it.
- A metal pole through the penis.
Pitchfork is a slasher that could have been so much better. I think had they taken this story more seriously and built a lot more on the father and son relationship as well as the tension with his coming out, they may have given this story more depth. We may have also rooted for these characters a lot more. Instead, it takes a lot of the heavier scenes and moments in a more silly and comedic direction. I felt that the acting was weak, and the film lacks any real tension or suspense. The best elements of Pitchfork are the cinematography and bloodshed.