Now out in a limited theatrical run and available on VOD starting January 13, 2017 is the new independent horror film Pitchfork, about a group of friends traveling from New York to the Michigan farm home of their friend Hunter Killian. Looking to support him in revealing a secret that he’s been hiding, they end up being hunted by a deadly monster. Researching this production resulted in discovering several brutal reviews on IMDB and a rather unfairly low rating, which is most likely going to result in some bold statements from this reviewer. Pitchfork may very well be the best horror movie for all of 2017 and the year has only just begun. This modern day twist on Leatherface and other similar slasher characters features stunning cinematography and imagery, while presenting a new iconic monster that is visceral, animalistic, and will frighten viewers to the core. Despite this being his feature length directorial debut, Glenn Douglas Packard is well on his way to becoming one of the masters of horror.
The story is reminiscent of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and a host of other slasher flicks like it, but with some twists and added subplots. There is some humor, goofiness, and a Footloose style barn party and dance sequence that are integrated into this; however these moments never directly interact with the murder sequences. This is not a horror comedy. There are instances of normal people partying, joking around, and having fun while grisly events occur unbeknownst to them. The subplots are only slightly explored but help add a little bit of depth to characters that are most likely going to meet untimely ends. The pacing is done well, it never feels slow and moves at a pretty consistent speed throughout.
The acting is far superior to what you would typically expect from a low budget independent horror production, with all of the core characters having some type of depth and drama going on. They should all be commended for giving respectable performances. It was also nice to see a diverse and eclectic group of actors and characters that varied in both ethnicity and sexual orientation. Brian Raetz, Lindsey Nicole, and Addisyn Wallace were all good in their respective roles. Rachel Carter is simply devious in her performance, one that I cannot go into further without spoiling plot points. Daniel Wilkinson is the star of the show and gives an incredible physical performance as the disturbing monster. While most of his portrayal is through his specific physicality and unusual noises, there are several moments where we get some terrifying facial expressions slightly hidden behind the mask.
The directing and cinematography are outstanding, with strikingly bold colors, atmospheric lighting and shadows, expansive overhead scenic shots, and great camera movement and placement. This is a terrific looking picture and both Packard and cinematographer Rey Gutierrez have taken their experience in music videos, commercials, and other avenues and applied it well to this. The editing is crisp and the decision to use sound instead of dialogue during certain sequences was smart and helped create the right mood. The music was a diverse mixture of a composed score from Christie Beu and various songs that all worked well combined together. The score contained pianos, ambient sounds, and a woman singing that really added to the overall disturbing tone during the horror sequences.
Practical effects, nudity, and excessive gore are considered essential elements for most successful horror movies. I believe that they more than delivered in the level of violence, offering up an extensive body count, plenty of splattering blood, several holy shit kills, and moments that could be considered torture porn. Despite containing no nudity, there is more than enough crazy violence to please most horror fans.
This has every makings of becoming a memorable horror film with an iconic slasher character, one with franchise potential. There should be more than enough in Pitchfork to entertain most horror buffs and freak out their significant others; I know I can’t wait to watch this again.
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