Dir. Michael Penning 73 mins
New Horizon Films
UK Release: 5th August 2013
The Legend Of Sorrow Creek has become The Cabin Of Sorrow Creek during its much delayed journey across the Atlantic. This low budget (£6,200) Canadian horror betrays it roots though, with the characters escaping their busy lives in New York for the seclusion of rural New England. It is of course shot completely within the Canadian border, so I’ve got no real idea of the reasons for setting it outside, but enough split hairs so let’s talk about the movie. Oh wait, three minor issues, 1) running time – come on, how many times? 80mins is not 73mins. 2) Why is there a trailer with a dodgy aspect ratio for Snakes On A Train before this film? 3) Has anyone anywhere ever heard of our cover quote provider the West Dalles Sentinel?
We meet Daniel Fields (Stephen Walker), a sociology doctor looking at the impact of local superstitions. He meets up with a local town sheriff with whom he discusses the legend of Sorrow Creek, where nine families left all that they owned one mysterious night and abandoned the town in 1899. They said they would rather leave everything than spend another night in those woods.
Switching suddenly to our four main protagonists, we’re introduced to sisters Kayla (Freya Ravensbergen) and Jesse (Christina Caron) along with Kayla’s boyfriend Dean (Matt Turner) and his best friend Tobe (Jon Deitcher). They’re all staying in the girls grandfather’s secluded cabin deep in the woods where the two sisters used to spend their summers. After a spot of dodgy dialogue “no signal? What does that mean?” the gang become increasingly concerned about Jesse who has failed to return from her tree rubbing (seriously). When the disconnected phone begins to ring and they hear Jesse on the other end distressed they begin to panic, not least Kayla who by now is in a state of hysteria.
Soon after, they abandon the cabin for the relative safety of hiding in their car outside and they notice a figure staggering towards them. As it gets closer they realise its Jesse, but she’s in a pretty bad way both emotionally and physically. As everyone beds down for the night, things seem to be gradually returning to normal, but before long, something happens which turns the whole vacation on its head.
I’m really patient with low budget horror films. Most people aren’t though, they seem to take a look at the slightly grainy image, the stilted acting and the often laborious exposition and get put off, and admittedly there’s plenty to pick at in this film which seems to detract from the positives. There’s the wavering American / Canadian accents, the frequent cringeworthy line of dialogue, the poorly acted and needless wraparound sequence.
That said though I must admit I jumped out of my skin on at least four occasions due to some excellent building of tension and some great sound work as well. The ending (not including the wraparound) was pretty haunting too, I just wished they had faded to black there as it really would have packed a punch and gone some way to encouraging you to walk away from the film with a positive viewpoint.