“Shallow Creek Cult” is a found footage film released in 2009 and written and directed by King Jeff. Although the film is billed as an “Action, Horror, Thriller”, Shallow Creek Cult plays out as a very mild horror film infused with intentionally campy comedic elements – in this regard, the film succeeds on many levels. Before starting this review let us say that this film was rather difficult come by, after having searched many of the normal channels for streaming and hardcopy DVDs, we came up empty. By happenstance, the writer/director King Jeff took notice of our coverage of Shallow Creek Cult on FoundFootageCritic.com and reached out to us, graciously offering a copy of the film for review.
Shallow Creek Cult opens with interviews of Louisiana locals offering testimonials and eyewitness accounts of the “Shallow Creek Cult” incident, where yet to be revealed nefarious events took place. Next we’re presented with an on-screen message from the local authorities:
“The following video footage is the property of the Shallow Creek, Louisiana Police Department. It was recorded by brothers Getty and Jessie Carmichael and contains rare footage of a mysterious, violent group known as the Shallow Creek Cult that occupied the Shallow Creek, Louisiana area in late 2011 and that was presumed responsible for the deaths and disappearances of several Shallow Creek residents. We warn you that some of the images are disturbing.”
From here, Shallow Creek Cult cuts over to found footage, in which two brothers Getty and Jessie (played by real life brothers Gorio and King Jeff) set out to honor their recently deceased grandfather by scattering his ashes in Shallow Creek, a park and campground their grandfather took them to as children. In true comedic form, while the brothers go to scatter their grandfather’s ashes over Shallow Creek pond, the urn slips from their hands and sinks to the bottom of the pond – this mishap sets the tone for the rest of the film.
After the botched ceremony, Jessie steps away for a nature call and Getty records a tour of the campground, reminiscing of his childhood. Shortly thereafter a disturbed and frantic Jessie returns saying that he just witnessed five or six cannibals eating a woman, This scene includes some rather funny adult humor that’s best heard first hand rather than reprinted here.
When watching Shallow Creek Cult, it’s best not to think too much and just sit back and enjoy the ride!
As Jessie recounts what he just witnessed, the camera catches an obscured glimpse of a creature in the nearby bushes that emotes what can be described as a squealing pig-like sound. Rather than heading back to their car, the brothers run to a presumably nearby building equipped with multiple outdoor surveillance cameras and knock on the door seeking help. When no one answers, they head around to the back of the building and find the door open. The two brothers enter the building and lock the door behind them. The inside of the building is equipped with a contingent of indoor surveillance cameras in each room and a central control room with television monitors covering the building interior and exterior. The two brothers proceed to search the building, which looks like someone’s home, and conveniently find two loaded handguns, and even more conveniently find a fully charged camcorder battery and backup tape that’s compatible with their camcorder. They also come across an article on the refrigerator about locals who either went missing or were found massacred in their bathtub near Shallow Creek.
When watching Shallow Creek Cult, it’s best not to think too much and just sit back and enjoy the ride! As the story moves forward, the brothers fight for their lives, trying to survive the night in the building they’re held-up in. Their adventure includes the unprovoked killing of a number of the pig-sounding humanoid cannibal creatures, shooting a toddler in the head, and one brother describing their plight as more intense than his tour in Desert Storm. Again, when viewing this film don’t nitpick, just watch and enjoy!
Shallow Creek Cult utilizes several filming reasons throughout the film that work logically within the context of the story. First and foremost, the brothers film the trip preparation and drive to Shallow Creek as part of their mourning and reminiscence of their recently departed grandfather. The duo also films everything that transpires with the “cannibal creatures” as evidence for the police. Finally, surveillance cameras automatically record much of what transpires inside and around the building where most of the action takes place. Shallow Creek Cult also employs several introductory scenes with interviews of locals recounting the “horrific events” of that day. The filming reason falters somewhat when one of the brothers holds his large camera upright in one hand, with a handgun in the other while hunting down and shooting the cannibal creatures.
The acting in Shallow Creek Cult is good for what the film is going for. The film and the actors don’t take themselves too seriously, which is a good thing. Over-dramatized reactions to absurd events bolster the campy atmosphere and humor.
Found Footage Cinematography
The cinematography in Shallow Creek Cult is sound, mixing handheld cameras and surveillance footage. The handheld cinematography is well done and comes across as natural. When the protagonists walk or run the camera is kept at their side and not held front and center, helping maintain the illusion or realism. This lack of cinematographic perfection can only benefit a found footage film.
One oddity of Shallow Creek Cult is the audio, which is muffled and difficult to hear at times. While the poor audio gives the film a more authentic feel, this comes at the expense of clearly hearing the dialog, which hurts the film. The film also includes what appears to be sound design in the scenes from the surveillance footage. This background lends texture to the indoor footage, helping set the tone for those scenes.
Acting and Plot
The acting in Shallow Creek Cult is good for what the film is going for. The film and the actors don’t take themselves too seriously, which is a good thing. Over-dramatized reactions to absurd events bolster the campy atmosphere and humor. While Shallow Creek Cult is far from perfect, the flaws add to the charm of the film, making it that much more fun to watch. The two brothers constantly refer to the creatures in the film as part of a cult, but there’s nothing to indicate that a cult exists or that these creatures are organized as such. And if these are creatures and not human, can we really call them cannibals? These are all questions that are best left unasked!