Director/Screenplay/Producer – Steve Wolsh, Photography – Michael Solidum, Music – Josh Bassett, Dan Marschak & Miles Senzaki, Special Effects Supervisor – Michael Ricci, Creature & Makeup Effects – Ben Bornstein, Production Design – Jessica Mahnke. Production Company – WithAn0 Productions
Lachlan Buchanan (Troit), Bryce Draper (Noah), Puja Mohindra (Chandi), Stephanie Danielson (Kylie), Laura Jacobs (Desiree), Grant Alan Ouzts (Billy), Lauren Francesca (Mia), Jaclyn Swedberg (Terra), Gia Skova (Victoria Cougar), Audra Van Hees (Miss Cape Cod 2013), Ashley Nicole Wallace (Lazy Dukes), Ashley Green Elizabeth (Miss Cape Cod 2012), Kane Hodder (Grawesome Grutal)
Five friends stagger out of the marshes near the town of West Craven, Cape Cod, having been attacked. They break into an empty vacation home and take refuge. Noah walks to a nearby bar where he calls his cousin Troit to come and pick them up. Meanwhile, those left behind at the house are attacked by the white-skinned creatures they call Creepers. As Troit and two girl friends arrive in the area, they come under attack by the Creepers too.
Muck is a debut film for Steve Wolsh who has clear intent to become a horror director with a slate of other titles in the works. In his day job, Wolsh claims to be a fashion/fetish photographer (although the only Google on his name turns up as a rather funny over-exaggerated profile on Model Mayhem, while nothing turns up for the photography company he claims to run bar an Instagram site that only has three pictures).
Muck is a film where it is hard to get a handle what is going on. For one, it never deigns to explain who The Creepers are and why any of these strange white-skinned creatures are hanging out in the vicinity of Cape Cod resort homes attacking passersby. Moreover, the story feels incomplete. We are introduced to the characters having already survived one previous attack and where one of the party is missing – thus you start the film with the feeling that some essential information is missing and hope you will catch up. We never do. The film also arrives at an irresolute ending with the two survivors not even out of the swamps. Certainly, Steve Wolsh has announced his intention to make Muck into a trilogy of films and has posited the follow-up title Muck: Feast of St Patrick. Another odd feature is that the film takes multiple points-of-view – no problem with this – but then laps over and has each character observe an aspect of some scene from earlier.
Muck gives the clear impression of being a film by indie amateurs. It is capably made in most technical respects and the acting is of a sufficiently professional level. The characters on the other hand tend to grate against one’s nerves. The two principal guys – Lachlan Buchanan and Bryce Draper – are written with such self-absorbed dialogue and so full of their jock attitudes that you wish they’d get killed off. Elsewhere, Grant Alan Ouzts has a speech where he analyses the group and their motivations in terms of slasher movie characterisations, which just seems to be trying to be a little too clever for its own good.
The other thing abundantly clear about Muck is that Steve Wolsh likes girls. In particular, he likes seeing them undressed. The cast list is filled out with a long line of girls whose career experiences is listed as fashion and calendar models, including one who was a Playboy Playmate, while the film’s premiere was even held at the Playboy Mansion. Wolsh frequently gets these girls into a state of undress. In fact, the film is frequently bent out of shape to include more girls in a state of undress – there is a scene at the bar where Lachlan Buchanan answers the phone where two girls are introduced for the sole purpose of a scene where they go into the bathroom and change. As Lachlan arrives in the town, the action sidetracks off for the sole purpose of him peeping in and watching Audra Van Hees get undressed through a window. Even the opening credits take place over footage presumably of the missing girl wandering around in the swamp wearing only a pair of briefs. This gets decidedly dubious at times like a scene where Laura Jacobs is grabbed by a Creeper and stripped down where what is a clear sexual assault is presented to us with the same delectation as the other scenes of girls undressed.
I found these annoyingly self-absorbed characters and fascination with naked girls to actually get in the way of creating a reasonable horror film. That said, Steve Wolsh does get it together in the last fifteen minutes where he gives us a brutal bare-knuckle fight as Lachlan Buchanan strips down and tackles The Creepers. On the other hand, Muck emerges so forgettably (and was greeted with indifference by audiences) that I’m willing to lay bets that we won’t be seeing any further instalments of the trilogy any time soon.