Is it OK to laugh at a horror movie when the director and star are within earshot?
By that I mean giggle at the gory scenes that you just can’t be scared by — those shish-kebab-through-the-eye-socket or feet-first-into-the-woodchipper moments that aren’t really horrific?
Why not laugh? Horrors are supposed to be fun, right?
Spoiler alert: I’m going to give away the monster
Hatt’s Creek, Montana has a problem. Something’s eating up the cattle, leaving dismembered bodies strewn about the bush. Wolves? A huge grizzly bear? Apparently their conservation officer is incompetent because he can’t figure it out.
Former national TV foreign war correspondent James Parnell has been busted down a few stripes since his Iraq and Afghanistan days due to sexual dalliances. He’s there to do a story on the missing cattle.
He’s just starting to interview the locals when the action gets going. A man manages to escape an attack (minus his arm) and crashes into the light pole at the corner of Second Avenue and Mackenzie (in downtown Revelstoke, where it was filmed.)
The entire Revelstoke Theatre Company (extras) witnesses the plaid-clad man bleed out before he can tell the local sheriff what’s de-limbing men and beasts out in the forest.
To make matters worse, a 12-year-old boy has now gone missing somewhere out there.
The locals are gun-toting hotheads (with no backstory) who insist the solution is an armed posse. Along with Parnell and the sheriff’s department, they decamp to Blanket Creek (Revelstoke area) to hunt and kill the beast – whatever it may be.
Usually, suspenseful films need to quickly get you to empathize with the lead characters. Don Knodel does well to portray James Parnell as an egocentric, womanizing jerk. But that works against the goal; we don’t care much if he or his unsavoury posse get ripped to bits at Blanket Creek.
You could root for the killer – a scary Sasquatch who looks a bit like a hairy Dam troll doll – but unfortunately we don’t get to see the most of the gory attacks. Only some piles of blood and guts.
The found film footage works just like The Blair Witch Project – a story unintentionally told through recovered film later edited together. Through jerky footage, we follow the dwindling posse around the edge of the Blanket Creek campsite parking lot as they get munched up by the monster.
The jerky found footage created the biggest problem for the movie; on the big screen at the Roxy, it was enough to give you motion sickness. Really make you sick – like have to close your eyes sick.
The plot doesn’t really go anywhere once we get into the bush. Eventually, everyone dies, except for the Sasquatch. He (she?) lives, but we never find out what motivated the beast to go nuts after its forebears so carefully concealed themselves for millennia.
The movie has a few laughs, and a few sort of scary moments. It might be a good one to watch in the tent while camping at Blanket Creek.
War theme cut out
In a Q&A after the movie, Knodel and Bafaro said filming in Revelstoke was a pleasure.
“It’s so nice to come to a place where the people are so welcoming,” Knowdel said.
“I would shoot all of my movies here if I could,” Bafaro said. He also shot the 2002 movie The Barber here. It starred Malcolm McDowell.
Bafaro said there was more commentary alluding to the war on terror in the film – a few of the characters served overseas. Embedded, after all, was the term for a reporter who was assigned to a military unit.
Dialogue criticizing war didn’t go over with film distributors.
“The Americans didn’t like that at all,” Bafaro said. “We had to cut it out.”
Waiting on he contemporary Revelstoke classic
Regional rival Nelson, B.C. was showcased in the 1987 classic Roxanne, while Fernie, B.C. can brag about being the setting in the 2010 comedy Hot Tub Time Machine.
In my mind, the 1937 film The Great Barrier is still the definitive made-in-Revelstoke movie. It’d be great to see a contemporary update for Revelstoke, but without a distribution deal yet, Embedded isn’t it.