Cub, or: Backwoods Belgian Bloodbath

Cub, a.k.a Welp, is a movie about a bevy of hormonal Cub Scouts, a creepy campfire tale, and a feral child. It’s an interesting premise that gives us some of the de rigur horror tropes without being a hollow rehash of cliches. The big question behind this partially Indiegogo-funded flick is this: with more than half the cast made up of minors, will Cub break that horror movie rule of the kids remaining alive and (relatively) unharmed?

Cub_Scouts_Group_Cub_Movie_Horror_BelgiumDead meat?

In short order we are introduced to our cast of characters, including Sam, a troubled scout with a mysterious past, scoutmasters Kris and Peter, and Jasmijn, the cook. There’s also Peter’s dog, Zoltan. The leaders prime the kids with a tale of boy-turned-werewolf Kai who stalks the very forest they’re camping in. Most of the kids are dismissive, but Sam seems impressionable. Properly primed for a trip full of fun scares, the group sets off.

Now if there’s one thing I look for in a Cub Scout campsite it’s abandoned factories and barbed wire. Thankfully our group drives a little farther and opts to spend the night in a suicide forest instead.

Abandoned_Factory_Belgium_CubThis is not at all terrifying.

It’s a good thing Johnny Law is close by in case of trouble.

I feel safer already.

Cub’s first act is deliciously slow, giving the atmosphere time to percolate and the characters time to develop. It’s a slow slide into the realization that something is wrong in these woods. Sam is the only character to see the feral child and immediately assumes he’s the werewolf boy Kai. Anything Kai gets up to is blamed on the troubled Sam and does nothing to further Sam’s relationship with his fellow scouts or the jerkass scoutmaster Pete.

The eponymous cub is unsettling enough that it’s easy to forget he’s a kid. It’s an excellent performance by Gill Eeckelaert, whose ragged snarly breathing, lurching gait, and sinister mask all help make his wordless performance ooze dread.

img_7090No one wants to wake up to a drooling feral child in their tent. No one.

The killings in the second act are creative contrivances that make the audience wonder just who or what is really out in the forest. The movie spends some time tap dancing around the issue of killing Cub Scouts, never really committing itself. This is mildly disappointing because the Rube Goldberg nature of the deaths could have eased the tension with some humor. Also, if you’re going to put kids in mortal peril, don’t flinch.

It is here that I would like to take a moment to talk about poor Zoltan. Most of us know what’s going to happen when a dog shows up in a horror movie. Cub is no different, however it is brutal and extremely cruel. Be warned.

The latter half of the movie loses its footing somewhat and seems to have some trouble making up its mind about exactly where things should end. I, personally, would have enjoyed more of the Rube Goldberg deaths. The movie culminates in an interesting fight scene that doubles as a metaphor for one’s own humanity vs. the darker aspects of the self. Yeah, it gets deep in the end. At least for a few minutes.

Mostly, Cub is an enjoyable film that never completely lives up to its potential. What’s most impressive is that this is the freshman effort by director Jonas Govaerts in his first foray behind the camera. Hopefully it won’t be his last.

See you next week, dreadful darlings. -BB

True Story Tuesdays: The Legend of Boggy Creek

IMG_7057

Welcome to a new feature at Beastly Bec – True Story Tuesdays!  One Tuesday a month  I’ll cover a true, inspired by, or based-on-actual-events horror flick.  I’m kicking things off with The Legend of Boggy Creek, the cultiest of all culty Bigfoot movies out there.

IMG_7058Brought to you in glorious seventies SD!

The Legend of Boggy Creek is the 1972 directorial debut of Charles B. Pierce, who would go on to give us the classic The Town that Dreaded Sundown. Based on a spate of Sasquatch sightings that took place in Fouke, Arkansas, Boggy Creek is an early example of docudrama.  The movie uses real townsfolk but plenty of staged interviews and dramatic reenactments.  Also, it has this Bigfoot costume.

IMG_7060Eek.

Vern Stierman narrates the film in such a way that he makes The Legend of Boggy Creek sound like The Waltons vs. Bigfoot. First seen by hunters, the Fouke Monster (as it came to be called) mostly stands at a distance and stares.  But things quickly take a turn for the scary when Bigfoot spooks a group of women home alone and does not make friends with their cat.

IMG_7063Lacking a prop cat or an actual dead cat, panning out on a still shot of a live cat will do.

A few Sasquatch sightings later, the menfolk of Fouke have had enough.  They get together lots of dogs and guns and hit the woods to try and rid the county of the Bigfoot menace. But the terrified mutts won’t track Bigfoot and the creature proves elusive.

The movie flounders a bit as we go from ramping up the tension to “and then no one saw the Fouke monster again for eight years.”  Also, because it’s the seventies, someone bursts into song.  Presumably because the movie is looking for something, anything, to put on film, this kid goes canoeing and later eats lunch.

IMG_7065

Bigfoot finally shows up again, once on a dark road and once in a dark chicken coop, before someone finds his footprints in Willie Smith’s bean field. There is a short debate over whether or not the prints could have been left by a gorilla or an orangutan, but as neither of these are creatures native to the backwoods of Arkansas, and the prints have three toes, this is quickly ruled out.

IMG_7069Pictured: Not a gorilla

A few more folks see Bigfoot before he scares the pants off three girls in a mobile home, one of whom has the presence of mind to grab a rifle.  Unfortunately the girls elect to scream loudly and incessantly instead of blowing  Bigfoot’s fuzzy face off.  While the narrator posits that Bigfoot is frustrated due to loneliness, it’s hard to feel sympathy for a creature that skins a dog (off camera) and repeatedly terrorizes women and children.

IMG_7072Middle of nowhere?  Something scary happening?  Make sure you take your kids outside.

Someone finally manages to get a few shots off at Bigfoot, but the sheriff insists the strange tracks they find are only panther tracks and leaves.  Bigfoot finally physically attacks a man right before the soundtrack switches to a snappy jazz number.  The movie winds down to the possibility that Bigfoot is still out there, lurking, waiting, watching…

The Legend of Boggy Creek is a fun foray into vintage horror.  While not scary, it does a good job of tuning into the eerie feeling of being alone at night and hearing a noise that’s probably the wind, or an animal, but could just as easily be Bigfoot.  Despite the cheese, lack of effects, and only fleeting glimpses of Bigfoot, Boggy Creek is an enjoyable watch fit for a warm summer night when the windows are open.  And if you’re ever in Fouke, Arkansas, you might want to steer well clear of the creeks.

Until next time, my dreadful darlings! -BB