Getty and Jessie Carmichael drive out to a campsite in Shallow Creek, Louisiana to scatter their grandfather’s ashes, as per his last request. While everything goes (somewhat) as planned with the ashes, when Jessie (King Jeff) wanders off into the woods to use the bathroom prior to their drive home, he stumbles upon a cannibal cult eating their latest victim. As he runs away, he drops the keys to the truck, and he and Getty (Gorio) are forced to retreat into the woods to find shelter from the cult. Which they do, when they come across a house filled with surveillance cameras, two loaded guns and the decomposing bust of a dead man in the bathtub.
Shallow Creek Cult is a mix of different filmmaking ideas, reminiscent of The Blair Witch Project, as opening and ending scenes are set up like a documentary, and Paranormal Activity, with the usage of “found footage” of Jessie and Getty’s adventure from their decision to scatter the ashes to the end, from both their own camera and eventually the surveillance cameras at the cabin in the woods. In that way, as Getty and Jessie are menaced as they hunker down to survive the night, we get to see much of it… sort of. Some of the more gruesome events happen off-camera, or are explained (such as Jessie’s discovery of the cult eating their victim), which is understandable as much for the potential budgetary reasons as for the potential creative reasons, but we often get a glimpse of the aftermath, so gore-aficionados won’t be entirely disappointed.
I’ve now seen a number of films over the last year setting up the “found footage” that follows as police evidence, so I have to be honest that I had a “here we go again” moment when that occurred in the opening but Shallow Creek Cult utilizes the “found footage” well, in that it doesn’t use it as an opportunity for Jessie and Getty to mug for the camera. Instead, the film just moves along, and Getty happens to be filming as much as he can because he feels that no one would believe them, should they survive, so they need evidence.
Now, I wasn’t in love with the way the film ends, though for once we have a “found footage” film that actually makes it pretty clear how that footage got found, which is nice. Also, for the most part, the pacing doesn’t lag, though scenes in the cabin do become repetitious (there’s only so many times you can see the cult on the surveillance monitor, hear them squealing about and then watch Jessie or Getty check it out). There is enough suspense or at least interest in what exactly is going on, or perhaps why, that can deliver you through, though, and the film doesn’t overstay its welcome at under-70 minutes long. Plus, credit must be given to King Jeff and Gorio for not only acting in the film but, if you read the credits, doing practically everything else too.
Overall, despite the usage of familiar horror aesthetics and techniques, Shallow Creek Cult manages enough originality and horror suspense to make it worth checking out. Again, I wish it had ended differently but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy myself along the way. That said, if you’ve grown weary of the “found footage” film, this isn’t going to do too much to make you feel differently.
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