Popcorn Fall

Popcorn Pictures

Reviewing the best (and worst) of horror, sci-fi and fantasy since 2000

  • Andrew Smith

Pitchfork (2016)

"Every generation has its monster"

Plot

Hunter heads back to his family farm for the first time since he came out and is unsure of the reaction he’ll get, bringing his friends with him for moral support. However, a deranged killer with a pitchfork for a hand soon starts killing them off one-by-one shortly after they arrive.

 

I’ve seen a lot of bang average to appalling poor horror films in my years, many of which I’ve reviewed on here. There have been films with incompetent direction, films with horrendous acting, films with low budgets, etc. but rarely have the stars aligned so atrociously than with Pitchfork, possibly one of the worst horror films I’ve seen – definitely one of the worst that I’ve seen that have seen within the last decade. Sometimes even I question my life choices when I’ve finished watching dreck like this.



Starting with a generic but competent opening sequence, Pitchfork should have just ended there because what follows in the next ninety-minutes are some of the worst choices I can recall. If it’s not the lighting, it’s the script writing, the casting choices…the list is endless. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to put people down for making a living in the industry, but I am putting down the quality of the products they’re churning out. Director Glenn Douglas Packard’s preoccupation to create a memorable slasher villain over and above making a decent slasher period is almost a complete bust from the get-go. The tagline ‘Every generation has its killer’ just reeks of desperation of the marketing team in positioning the villain to become some sort of big player in the genre, totally missing the glaring fact that the genre’s most iconic characters (Freddy, Jason, Michael, etc) started off life with no pretences of being the cult figures they are – they just naturally became those pop culture icons over time. Every time a film like Pitchfork tries to force-feed the audience in believing their creation will be the next big thing, it fails dramatically.

It doesn’t help that the killer, Pitchfork, isn’t a very well-written character. At first, he appears to be supernatural, his speed and agility are too quick for normal humans and he has that uncanny ability to disappear and appear at will. He doesn’t speak, opting to resort to loud shouts, grunts and squeals which quickly grow irritating, wears an animal skin face mask and has a pitchfork where his left hand should be. I just didn’t get scared or freaked out by him – there’s no physical menace or intimidating presence. However, the film goes all The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and torture porn in the final third, revealing that Pitchfork is just as mortal as Leatherface and his ilk and that he’s just a generic backwoods villain, brought about by a weird and tortuous family life. A poor character is made even more pathetic with unnecessary characterisation. He does a lot of killing, though the kills are rather weak considering his weapon of choice.



Writing is Pitchfork’s main issue. Aside from the confusing way Pitchfork is portrayed, the script has no idea how to even set up the formula pieces around a coherent plot that will allow the killer to gate crash at an appropriate point once everything is ready. There is literally no reason for the whole “coming out” angle which is just a flimsy excuse to get everyone together in this farmhouse (there are a hundred and one reasons why the group could have gone there and it would have made the same impact on the plot, which is zero). Once the group arrive at the farm, they quickly forget about Hunter and his family and just all go off partying. The group consist of characters solely defined by their introductory scene, where each one fires off some lines which are meant to shed some light on their back story. All you’ll get is chick with British accent, guy with Indian accent, loved-up couple, etc. and that’s it as far as characters go – hell, I had a hard time remembering their names. It ticks boxes for the diversity quota though.


The large uninteresting cast don’t help at all. Despite being set-up as the main character, Brian Raetz’s Hunter gets about as much screen time as everyone else. Daniel Wilkinson, under the animal mask as Pitchfork, seems to enjoy pratting around and mugging for the camera whenever he can. I don’t even remember anything about the rest of the terrible cast, apart from the fact that most of the females are attractive. This isn’t the kind of slasher that will get any of them naked however.


Other things to massively irk me include a lighting department that go into overdrive in the night scenes, with a strong single-source white-blue light being fired in from the background to illuminate the set. You might as well shine a spotlight straight at the camera, it’s that bright in some shots. I know lots of these low budget horrors have ridiculously bright night-time scenes (I guess a bright moon!) but ‘natural lighting’ this clearly isn’t.

 

Final Verdict

It comes to something that Pitchfork’s most memorable scene is a choreographed barn dance sequence in the first third of the film. It’s a full-blown musical number straight out of Glee or Step Up, where the previously stoic girls suddenly transform into frenzied dancers and the barn is filled with dozens of random teenagers who appear from nowhere. Talk about a random shift in tone. But that just about sums up Pitchfork to a tee – random shifts from one thing to another are constant and it never has a clear vision about what it wanted to do when it set out aside from trying to create a memorable villain. It gets its priorities all wrong from the start and ends up becoming this dreadful mess. I really wish I’d bailed out long before I endured the full ninety-minutes.



 

Pitchfork


Director(s): Glenn Douglas Packard


Writer(s): Darryl F. Gariglio, Glenn Douglas Packard


Actor(s): Daniel Wilkinson, Brian Michael Raetz, Lindsey Dresbach, Ryan Moore, Celina Beach, Nicole Dambro


Duration: 94 mins