Loading his friends up into a van to accompany him from New York City to his family’s farm in Michigan, Hunter Killian (Brian Raetz), is preparing himself to face his parents for the first time after revealing that he is gay. What Hunter and his friends can’t prepare for are the horrors that await them.
What follows is a fairly paint-by-numbers entry into the slasher movie sub-genre, with each member of the group looking, and acting, like the stereotype they represent. There’s the nerd wearing glasses, the jock wearing his varsity jacket, the couple in love hanging on each other and the horny sexpot wearing just enough to be considered clothed. In one of the best lines of the movie, Hunter’s curmudgeonly “far-too-young-to-be-his-dad” dad, takes one look at the group and says, “It’s like the Breakfast Club just puked on my lawn”.
To the surprise of no one, the plot follows the expected path (more or less), with a boot-scoot to the left at one point and an abrupt tonal change in the last act. While this last bit certainly has the potential to turn some viewers off, it’s not a deal breaker. There’s plenty of stalking, slashing and bloodshed to keep fans happy and the look of “Pitchfork” is certainly memorable, sporting the business end of a pitchfork attached to his left wrist in place of a hand and held in place with barbed wire. His mask, which looks like the face of a beaver (sans teeth), is best viewed in low light and shadows. Once he steps into one of the many lights that shine brightly from the background he looks like someone who stepped off the set for the video “The Fox” by Ylvis.
About twenty minutes into the movie we are delivered something that had been promised by a few of the characters: a barn dance! With an oddly large number of people in attendance for a rural, secluded farm, the spectacle that (were there only some singing by the actors), tiptoes the line of a Bollywood number is a surprisingly entertaining couple of minutes. While this may turn some people off, it’s not the film’s biggest mark against it. That honor goes to the inability of establishing any type of realistic sense of distance and time. Characters run for great lengths only to arrive about twenty yards from where they started, others are captured and strung up by barbed wire off screen during a two minute conversation by other characters and, most glaringly of all, the aforementioned barn dance. Where do all of these people come from? How do they have a stack of pizzas in delivery boxes? The lack of a coherent distance, time and velocity formula is inherent to slasher movies – it’s how Michael, Jason, et al, are able to casually walk after someone half their age running away in a full sprint. But it’s just a bit too much here and that makes it stand out more than it should.
All of which is not to say that Pitchfork is a bad movie, it’s just not all that good. The acting is slightly less than what you would expect from this type of movie, with Daniel Wilkinson being a step above with his portrayal of the beaver-faced, feral Pitchfork – moving like a lithe animal, sliding in and out of sight and, at one point, acting like a curious dog who can’t figure out why his playmates aren’t scampering around with him. The dialog is a bit suspect at times which is, unfortunately compounded by some of the actors and their lack of range, but saved by others who somehow manage to avoid falling into camp territory. The choice of bright lights in the distance to provide an eerie effect to the landscape is marred by the fact that they are TOO bright, causing it to look like the seconds prior to an alien abduction on an episode of The X-Files. It’s these lights that take Pitchfork from the shadows, nearly neutering him by changing him from a frightful creature to a mutt that just needs a scratch behind the ears and a nice sock to play tug with.
One of the taglines for Pitchfork is: ‘Every generation has its monster.’ While it’s doubtful that Pitchfork becomes the one for the current generation, he will however, be remembered for his originality, at the very least.
Pitchfork is available on VOD and on iTunes now.