Everyone loves slashers. They’re the unofficial face of the horror genre. Unfortunately, finding a great slasher flick in a sea of sub-par attempts is a risky journey. Then, one day, a sleeper hit comes along, a movie that you know is going to raise the bar back to its heightened standard all while giving gore fans something to talk about. Film festival favorite Pitchfork is that movie and I guarantee it’s going to be one of the most talked about films of the year when it hits select theaters and VOD this January. It’s brutal, surprising and breaks the mold in an invigorating way. Read my full review of this gem below!
Pitchfork is written, directed and produced by Glenn Douglas Packard with co-writer and co-producer Darryl Gariglio. Cast members include Daniel Wilkinson, Lindsey Nicole, Brian Raetz, Ryan Moore, Celina Beach, Keith Webb, Sheila Leason, Nicole Dambro, Vibhu Raghave, Rachel Carter, Andrew Dawe-Collins, Carol Ludwick, Derek Reynolds, Addisyn Wallace and Anisbel Lopez. Pitchfork tells the story of Hunter (Raetz) and his rag-tag group of friends as they head to his family farm to confront his parents following his admission of being gay. Nerves, hormones and reestablishing bonds and acceptance aren’t the only thing that are running rampant on the eve of Hunter’s big hoedown. A muscular, masked killer with a pitchfork for a hand is stalking the farm and murdering the guests one by one.
The first thing that struck me about Pitchfork is the camera quality and picture design. The film is beautiful, absolutely appealing to the eye and Rey Gutierrez gets a lot of applause from me for making this look like it was made with a couple million books. The style is somewhat reminiscent of The Final Girls, another incredibly impressive feature that worked color into a depressing setting. Just breathtaking work from everyone in the camera department. This high standard of film production kept up through the entire movie. I’m talking about flawless audio, fun angles, impressive scores, natural scenic backdrops, excellent performances from the actors and some of the best special effects blood I’ve seen in a while! Who dropped the ball on this one because Pitchfork should be getting a wide theatrical release. It’s that good!
Now, here’s where Packard and Gutierrez really made something that breaks the traditional slasher and horror film stereotypes, both in characters and plot progression. The group of friends are ethnically diverse while also comprising the stratosphere of typical film characters. The gay kid, the survival girl, the jock, the whore, the nerd, etc etc etc. The only difference in Pitchfork is that they are written realistically, as real human beings, so they don’t fit into the cliches that we see in every other movie. They don’t follow the same outline and see the same horrible decisions that they should make. It’s uncharted territory! They’re all extremely likeable, except for one, and you’ll actually feel bad when they start getting butchered by the killer. At the same time, when they are butchered, the killer doesn’t follow the same decision making choices, either. He kills almost at random and you never know who’s going to bite the dust next. This is a tremendous maneuver that is sure to keep the viewers glued to the screen. An absolutely genius way of keeping people roped in with emotion, mystery and suspense.
Pitchfork was also a tremendously successful throwback flick. A lot of filmmakers attempt this tactic, but few have pulled it off as well as Pitchfork. The party in the barn, the make-out sessions in the car, the killer with a pitchfork for a hand… It was all so 80’s and it came across nostalgic and effertless without even trying. It even has an homage to Texas Chainsaw Massacre! That is perhaps one of my favorite things about this well acted movie. My only complaint with the entire movie is that it didn’t go… there. It’s bloody, frightening and a masterful story, but I felt as if the terror and bloodshed was always just hair behind what it should be. I wanted a little more… a little more “oomph” during the action sequences to match the already incredibly produced movie. I enjoyed the traditional hack and slash, the quick and easy kills, but I wanted the killer to dispatch his victims in more sinister ways.
All in all, Pitchfork was a near perfect movie. It’s classic, primal and utterly horrific. It’s chilling and unnerving and oddly erotic. It’s also one of the best horror films of the year. I’m so impressed and looking forward to buying this on DVD. You should check it out, too! Final Score: 9.25 out of 10.