An ex-Navy seal (Mehcad Brooks), his girlfriend (Serinda Swan) and their friends head out on a road trip to New Orleans. The group decides to stop at a roadside convenience store owned by Chopper (Sid Haig), who tells them the tale of Lockjaw, a fabled god-like creature who is half-man, half-alligator.
The legend has it that an inbred local man by the name of Grimley (Daniel Bernhardt) lost his family to a monstrous white alligator, which then drove him to madness and some believe he was transformed into that very creature that now haunts the depths of the swamps. Their curiosity peaked, the group decides to play along with the local tourist trap and journey deep into the backwoods to find the old dilapidated cabin which is supposed to be the birthplace of the creature.
As they set-up camp for the night, their faith is put to the test when Lockjaw turns out to be more than just a myth and they realize the locals are hiding a horrifying secret that jeopardizes them all.
Creature starts with ex-Navy seal Niles (Mehcad Brooks from "True Blood"), his girlfriend Emily (Serinda Swan from "Breakout Kings"), and four of their friends driving through the Louisiana swamplands on their way to New Orleans. They stop for a bathroom break at a ramshackle general store that is owned by a hillbilly named Chopper (Sid Haig, Captain Spaulding from House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects), where he tells them the story of Grimley (played by martial artist Daniel Bernhardt from the Bloodsport movies as well as T.V.'s "Mortal Kombat: Conquest"), an inbred local who, in a nutshell, killed a giant alligator and became a mutant named Lockjaw, half human and half alligator. Interested in the legend, the kids get directions from Chopper and set out to find Grimley's house. After tramping through the swamp full of spiders, snakes and alligators, the bunch find the house and set up camp. That's when they learn that not only is Lockjaw real, but he's not the only dangerous thing in the swamp.
Creature is a throwback to the old 70's and 80's monster movies. It's got blood. It's got boobs. It's got Sid Haig. The only thing missing is Roger Corman's name on it. Oh, also missing is the tongue-in-cheek wink-wink humor that the creature-feature genre requires. Directed by Fred Andrews (who cut his teeth on T.V.'s "Without a Trace"), Creature takes itself way too seriously. It tries to be a legitimate horror movie instead of playing up the campy factor. The cookie-cutter characters are boring and annoying, and thus disposable, but they just don't die fast enough. Despite the spotty acting and corny dialogue, the film does not come off as a retro B-movie, it just comes off as bad -- and not in the good way.
The effects in Creature are right out of the 80's. Lockjaw is Bernhardt in a rubber suit, looking like a comic-book cross between Spawn and the Swamp-Thing. The monster was designed and built by Jerry Constantine (who did special effects makeup for Watchmen and GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra) from sketches given to him by Andrews. Using an actor in the costume makes the interaction between the characters and the monster much more believable and seamless than if it were done with CG, and Constantine's monster suit looks just as good (if not better) than anything that a computer could have generated.
The retro effects don't stop with the monster. Creature has tons of rubber limbs and corn-syrup blood, and the whole package visually harkens back to the classic days of the splatter flick. In spite of its shortcomings as a horror film, the effects in Creature are a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stale atmosphere of CGI.
Photographically, Creature looks great. Andrews, along with cinematographer Christopher Faloona (also from "Without a Trace"), captures the dark and scary spirit of the American horror movie. However, the acting and plot don't provide the scream-inducing payoffs that the mood sets up. There are not many real scares in Creature. There's not really much gore, either; most of what the audience is treated to is the aftermath of the act -- the bloody stump where the hand used to be, or Lockjaw's claw holding a victims trachea that he has just ripped out. Even during the few instances where the film could be scary, the film bafflingly switches to a slow-motion effect that kills any chance it would have had at frightening the viewer. Creature looks scary, but does not deliver.