"Unearthed," the second of the 8 Films 2 Die 4 from Horrorfest 2007 I checked out on DVD, is a dormant monster brought to live to kill (almost) everybody in the movie type of movie. The setting is a desolate New Mexico town, so isolated that an oil tanker can turn over and block what is apparently the only road out of town. Equally important to the plot, the oil tanker was coming to deliver gasoline to the place run by Grandpa (Russell Means), which means the bad news for the people who show up in the first part of the movie is that there is no gasoline for them to get out of town. The good news is that all of the women in this small town in New Mexico are big time babes. But then there is the really bad news that a monster has been, well, unearthed.
Our heroine is Sheriff Annie Flynn (Emmanuelle Vaugier of "Saw II), who has an incident in her past that everybody is always making veiled references to; in fact, when Grandpa does not bring up the incident, Annie does herself, before going back to drinking to forget what everybody keeps alluding to. It gets to the point where you expect the strangers who show up to be fodder for the creature to all know about this incident as well. By the time the deep dark secret (that everybody knows about) is revealed, I was totally apathetic. Caya (Beau Garrett of "Turistas"), Ally (Whitney Able), and Nodine (Tonantzin Carmelo), are other babes on the menu, whith Nodine being the important one since she is not only Grandpa's granddaughter, but also a botanist. Yes, it is strange that a botanist would be of big help in explaining the monster in a monster movie, but that is part of what attempts to make this monster different.
I noted that once people started dying that there was not a whole lot of discussion about what was happening, although I suppose it does make sense to a certain extent not to engage in conversation while fleeing. But then we get to a scene where there is an explosion of exposition (who knew that pictographs could be so detailed?). The most interesting character int he story is Kale (Luke Goss), a tattooed archeologist who is sort of Mulder and Scully wrapped into one as he is out there digging alone to prove his Anaszi ancestors were wiped out by something more personal than drought. Most of his dialogue comes in the exposition scene, and you are never sure if he is crazier than he is smart or the other way around. But you know full well that the last man standing in this horror movie is going to be a woman, so you take his presence with a grain of blood-soaked salt.
I was stunned that "Unearthed" was made by writer-director Matthew Leutwyler because I had absolutely loved his previous film, "Dead and Breakfast," which I thought should have been the next great midnight movie in the "Rocky Horror" tradition. Of course I realize that you cannot make a career out of zombie musicals and it is not like Leutwyler should not be trying to make serious horror films (remember, Steven Spielberg's first World War II movie was neither "Saving Private Ryan" nor "Schindler's List," for which he won Oscars as Best Director, but the raucous comedy "1941"). But there is nothing memorable about this film, which like way too many films these days suffers from the overuse the hand held camera. Beyond that, "Unearthed" comes across as a film cobbled together from bits and pieces of other films. I was thinking that you could take the end of "Duel," most of "Feast," and some moments from "Alien," and edit together a better movie than this one. Across the board "Unearthed" comes up with too little in the blood, gore, suspense, shock, and any other department you want to mention from the horror film checklist. The net result is a horror film that avoids being offensive, but has nothing to particularly recommend it to fans of the genre.
The only bonus feature on the DVD are the Miss Horrorfest Contest webepisodes, which are included on all of the DVDs in this round of the After Dark Horrorfest (good to know that a scream queen can actually scream). The absence of any extras besides the standard choice between English and Spanish subtitles squelched any second thoughts about rounding up instead of down on this one. Next up: "Tooth & Nail."