Directed by Colin Theys [Other horror films: Banshee!!! (2008), Remains (2011), Dead Souls (2012), Deep in the Darkness (2014), Stalker’s Prey (2017), Stalker’s Prey 2 (2020), A Predator Returns (2021)]
So before I get into this atrocity (as much as I don’t really want to spend time on this), let me first recount why I watched this.
Back in March of 2017, I was pretty much recording any horror movie that was on television to watch, no matter how bad it sounded, no matter how much I thought I’d hate them (it was for this reason I recorded both 2-Headed Shark Attack and Finders Keepers). And so despite how terrible this sounded, I recorded it onto my DVR. Fast forward to the early days of 2021 (this is being written on the third of January), and I finally took the time to watch it.
I’ll give it that it tried something newish, or at least newish to me. Dark Haul (also known under the name Monster Truck, which is the title I recorded it under) is a fantasy-horror mix about a demon being born along with a superhuman sister with powers that aren’t fully delved into (she has sort of a warbling wave that can contact and calm her winged brethren) that are imprisoned by a religious group named he Keepers who believe in an end-of-the-world prophecy and such.
And bad things happen.
Within the Keepers, there is a hardliner who believes both the demon and the sister are evil, this hardliner played by Tom Sizemore. The leader of the Keepers is more moderate, and treats the humanoid sister more humanely, though still keeps her a prisoner. This kind gent is Rick Ravanello. The superhuman sister is Evalena Marie. There’s also a priest played by Kevin Shea who does a few things, though he’s not terribly important.
Perhaps if I were a fan of fantasy, I would have dug this more. Certainly the theological disagreements over the meaning of a specific prophecy were somewhat interesting to listen to, but the fantasy-action scenes didn’t do it for me, and when the demon escapes and the film veers more a horror direction, the CGI was so inept that it was painfully laughable.
I don’t fault the performances. Sure, Sizemore (of The Relic, Bottom Feeder, and Visible Scars) came across as ridiculously over-the-top sinister, but the movie almost portrays him as an unsung hero, especially when, at the end, Rick Ravenello’s character agrees with his tactics. Evalena Marie’s character was easy to root for, but in some ways, her success seemed to mean the end of the world. Kevin Shea (who I’ve seen in a surprising amount of low-budget horror films, such as Remains, Sasquatch Assault, Banshee!!!, and Dead Souls, some of which have the same director as this film, Colin Theys) was okay, but his character didn’t really get enough licks in to matter.
Still, I think most of the people involved gave it the best they could. I never personally felt any strong emotions toward any of them, even during scenes where you’d think an emotional response would be likely, but my problem with Dark Haul is the story, not the performances.
And the story is pretty lackluster, especially given I’m not a fantasy fan, but what’s worse was that hideous CGI, especially during some of the kills. A guy gets ripped in half, his organs falling out, and all I can wonder is how much that green screen cost. It was as pathetic and non-threatening as you could expect from a Syfy film.
Dark Haul was an easy film to get through, especially because I knew what I was working with within the first ten minutes of the film, but it was far from an enjoyable experience, and while I appreciated the fact that the writers went with a different approach, the fantasy aspects didn’t do it for me, and I thought everything else was embarrassingly weak also.