Written and Directed by Matthew Leutwyler, 2007
There is nothing worse than a creature feature unfit to even be considered a Sci-Fi channel original film. Or so I thought right up to 93 minutes ago, when I elected to watch UNEARTHED on FearNET HD On-Demand. Turns out the pain from said creature feature stings all the more when it is the sophomore film from Matthew Leutwyler, the man responsible for DEAD & BREAKFAST, the premiere independent horror-comedy hybrid since EVIL DEAD II.
UNEARTHED is dreadful. Dreadful, dreadful, dreadful. Lest you think this is merely a let down because I hold DEAD & BREAKFAST so high, I assure you it is not. UNEARTHED is irredeemable by anyone’s standards. The Leutwyler authorship is merely dirt kicked in the face.
Cut to the shitty chase. Strangers converge at a gas station in an almost non-existant town, trapped there by a mutual need for gas that is never going to come because the truck hauling it “exploded” (the script’s words; sure doesn’t look it) after swerving to miss a recently…wait for it…unearthed creature. This creature is straight out of a time vortex anchored in the film stock of 1992′s ALIEN 3. I talk not only of its design, which is a blatant adolescent xenomorph, but that the film’s heinous CGI is identical to that of Fincher’s in ALIEN 3, which for anyone who has seen it in the last, oh, 18 years knows has not aged well. Not, at, all.
But an uninspired creature can be overcome. All ya need is a director with some vision. A creative eye who can coax energy from his actors and cinematographer. Matthew Leutwyler, it pains me to say, can no longer be categorized as such a man. We’ve all seen better casts, sure, but Emmanuelle Vaugier, M.C. Gainey, and Charlie Murphy have all stolen hearts in the past. Not here, though. Every performer is bored to tears. Characters aren’t just cardboard, they are whatever recycled cardboard is further recycled in to. The camera would be tolerable were it not for editing more jagged than…something that really fucking sucks because of how excessively jagged it is. Sorry, I can’t really think right now, the lack of creativity in this film must have somehow transferred to me.
I’ll admit I like the idea of a group of strangers forced to convene at a gas station waiting for a delivery truck to come, but there are far more interesting stories to tell in that scenario than what was told here. I’m not even sure a story was told. Well, not a story worth telling at least. I get it. Our hero is reluctant. People want to hook up, but can’t because a monster is too busy (well, not that busy, because nothing exciting happens for stretches at a time) killing people off screen because the production rarely could afford to film a proper, practical death. Charlie Murphy is black, so he must play to stereotype. M.C. Gainey is old and grizzled, so he must play to stereotype.
Yeah, I get it. I got it all years ago, when every ounce of this was done better by better filmmakers. Fuck, MAMMOTH on the Sci-Fi chan is exponentially better than this tripe. UNEARTHED is just dreadful. I can’t even come up with a hyperbolic analogy for just how dreadful a film it is – and that is what I do! – that’s how disinterested in it I already am. My mind grapes just keep circling that word.
Dreadful, dreadful, dreadful.
Tags: Matthew Leutwyler