Pitchfork is a movie that on one hand feels like it should be applauded and on the other that it needed a lot more work before it was made. It’s not the first gay-themed horror movie, but it is one of only a few films – and not just in the horror genre – that brings in a gay character/storyline, but their sexuality isn’t key to the plot. He’s just a gay guy who happens to be involved in some very bloody goings on.
Hunter (Brian Raetz) has just come out, and along with some young friends has gone back to the farm where he grew up, to talk to his family about the fact he’s gay. Before that though they plan to have a party in one of the barns. Things take an unexpected turn with the arrival of the titular Pitchfork – an insane, mute killer who wears a mask of animal fur and has a pitchfork attached to his arm.
The nutty murderer proceeds to do what he does best, cutting a swathe through Hunter’s family in exceedingly bloody ways, before moving on to the young partyers. As more and more people get mown down and killed, the survivors must find a way to escape the killer, but that may only lead them into even more trouble.
Pitchfork is a bit of an odd film, which knows what it wants to do and sort of knows the elements of how to do it, but it doesn’t really work in its execution. So little time is spent telling us who these people are and why we should care whether they live or die, that it’s difficult to get drawn in. It quickly turns into a very long series of death scenes, which deliver on spurting blood, but rarely manage to build a sense of tension.
It seems the makers hoped Pitchfork himself would become a sort of horror icon, and you can certainly see the elements they’ve pulled together to try and make that happen, but much of the time he comes across as more silly than scary. Indeed, that’s perhaps the crux of the problem with the movie – it can’t seem to decide whether it’s meant to be funny or not – and so feels like it’s trying to be both silly and serious simultaneously. There are moments when it seems to be deliberately putting its tongue in its cheek, but others bits are played with such a po-face that they’re ludicrous.
The long list of problems with its script and setup are a shame, as visually Pitchfork is sometimes quite a striking movie. The blood will keep horror-hounds happy (although those who demand never-ending buckets of gore and nastiness had better look elsewhere) and the film is constantly suggesting that it has the potential to be more that it is. And, as mentioned above, it’s nice to have a movie with a gay ‘hero’, but which doesn’t feel like it was made solely for gay audiences and where everything doesn’t hinge around issues to do with the character’s sexuality. That said, you could say it’s making points about family, and that there are far worse things than your child ending up gay, especially if you’re trying to push them in unhealthy directions.
I wish I could be more positive about PItchfork, as with echoes of everything from Evil Dead to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, it’s clear a lot of love for horror went into the film. Ultimately though it commits the cardinal sin of horror films, which is to be a little dull. Even when things look like they’re picking up after we discover where Pitchfork has come from, it never quite manages to succeed.
Overall Verdict: A lot of love for horror and heart may have gone into making PItchfork, but sadly the results are a movie with bland characters, a villain who’s not that scary, and an inability to decide whether it wants to make you laugh or not.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac