13th Child
13th CHILD:
. 2002
Directors: Thomas Ashley,
Steven Stockage & Fred Tepper

Director: Conrad Glover

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

A black man in a nuthouse claims to be eye-witness of the Jersey Devil of the Pine Barrens, a creature that likes to kill eye-witnesses. The District Attorney (Lesley-Anne Down) believes it was the Jersey Devil killed her pappy years before. When mysterious murders occur in the barrens, she warns FBI agent Kathryn (Michelle Maryk, who scored this leading role because her daddy produced & co-scripted the film) to keep an open mind.

13th Child13th Child (2002) with occasional sly moments of humor & its scruffy atmospherics is here & there effective, the more so thanks to a journeyman performance by Cliff Robertson as One Sick Supernatural S.O.B. who loves spiders, snakes, & the devil.

Other seasoned character actors either help to make the film a mite better than usually expected, or expose the rest of the cast as unworthy even of being in a B-horror stinker.

Cliff helped out on the script, probably so his character wouldn't be as bad as most of the film, & for that reason alone 13th Child is worth watching once. Unfortunately, I accidentally tried to watch it a second time after having forgotten most of it in three years, & as more & more of the film came back to me, it was clearly not worth watching twice.

The Jersey Devil is the Northeast's cryptozoological heavyweight champion, as is the Sasquatch of the Pacific Northwest, or Ogopogo in Canada. The Jersey Devil has been portrayed as everything from a big bad four-legged carnivore to a leather-winged devil to a sasquatch-like ape man, leaving considerable leeway for a movie interpretation.

In this take the Jersey Devil is the 13th Child born to an Indian shaman in colonial days, who was transformed into an immortal or at least extremely long-lived shapeshifter to avenge Indians against white incursions. This backstory in no way informs its choice of victims or anything.

Evil in the woodsThere are frankly some very much more interesting folkloric tales about the Jersey Devil, & immortal shaman's son ain't an improved variant. Reportedly fear of copyright infringement was the excuse for changing everything about the legend, rendering it a little bit like making a movie about the Loch Ness monster which turns out to be a magic pony from the Crusades.

In Woods of Evil (2005) a fat psycho dwells in the woods. That's the whole story.

The fat psycho helps out a piss-poor director place a few poorly staged bits of would-be-commercial violence into a film wholly uninspired & weighted under the disease of Blair Witchitis, which is the belief that if Blair Witch Project can make a tramp in the woods spooky, all you need is a tramp in the woods.

Three bad guys & two young women selected as their kidnap victims head out, not all that far, into the woods. At said woodland edge, the bad guys find out what bad really means, which in general would be a reference to the quality of the film.

If you like bad dialogue mumbled by bad actors who can live or die for all anyone watching could care, then this is the film for you. If you like cheap gore FX that require no acting or story to go with it, in that case, prepare to be disappointed, as even the cheap gore FX are a yawn.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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