Let’s see… Knight Rider, Manimal, The Fall Guy, The A-Team… a mini-series called Ocean, and a horror movie called Nutcracker… and then there’s Fallen Angels, Used, The Steppes, and The House That Wept Blood.
Phew! I’m in the clear. David Hess, who unfortunately plays Ferret in Swamp Thing, has twenty-seven more credits on IMDb, and none of them are superhero movies. So unless I decide to write about terrible horror movies from the 2000s, which obviously I won’t, then this is the last time I ever need to look David Hess in the face again. You have no idea how comforting that is to me.
Because for fuck’s sake, look at this. Personally, I’ve never been an actor pretending that my head is being crushed by a furious one-armed plant elemental, but I’m pretty sure you start with a sense memory called “ouch,” and build from there, rather than jumping straight to Jerry Lewis faces. Indicating motherfucker.
Ferret has been aggravating me with his goony expressions, rapey vibe and inadequate line-readings since he started menacing people back at the lab, and I can’t wait to say goodbye. So this is one of those moments when the interests of the film and the audience are entirely aligned. It’s time to vote this dude off the island.
The sequence begins with an exciting chase, which I can’t take any decent screenshots of because as usual the lighting is not meeting expectations. Cable’s time as an active character in the movie is drawing to a close, but she’s going out with a bang: kneeing Ferret in the crotch and pushing him overboard, which the rest of us have been wishing we could do this whole time.
A minute ago, Ferret thought they were dating, but now the mercurial machete-man is dogging Cable’s steps, all the way across the wet patch and onto what passes for dry land around here, making little whooshing noises with his blade.
Cable’s setting a decent pace, but then there’s another one of those little mishaps that seem to afflict women who run in movies: she barrels straight into an enormous rubber-suit man-monster who is standing directly in front of her, which seems to be the kind of miniature golf course hazard that you would expect a person to notice more than zero centimeters away. It takes her aback a little.
And then three exciting things happen in a row, a new record for the movie. Swamp Thing says his first word: “Cable!”
Then Ferret swings his machete, and all of a sudden there’s daylight where Swamp Thing’s left elbow used to be.
And then Swamp Thing grabs Ferret’s head and squeezes, which, as I said, is a blessing to us all.
It’s a huge moment for the movie, with three big plot points all happening at the same time, and it appears to be a late addition to the script. A couple weeks ago, I wrote about the differences between the movie and the third-draft script that I’ve got, which has all the same plot beats in the last half of the movie, but in a slightly different order.
For one thing, Swamp Thing talks way earlier than he does in the movie, and he says a lot more. The script has him in full conversation with Cable ten minutes earlier, back in the burned-out lab, and he talks to Jude like he’s a boy sidekick. In the movie, Swamp Thing’s still just a hulking monster all the way through the boat fight and the child-resurrection, and they save the monster’s first words for a surprise reveal, right here.
Also, in the script, he doesn’t get his arm cut off here; that happens a few minutes from now, when Arcane finally traps him with a net.
So in the film, they take those three separate incidents from different places in the script and bring them together, to make this one big set piece that’s full of surprises. There’s been a lot of dumb stuff in the movie and there’s more dumb stuff coming up, so I want to take a moment to appreciate the good decision that they made right here.
This is also the only moment of real violence in the movie. For a film that’s supposed to be at least partly a horror movie, it’s incredible how squeaky-clean it’s been up until now. Yeah, lots of people got shot and exploded and poisoned with pocket snakes, but we’ve hardly seen any blood the whole time. The only gore that we’ve seen so far was on Jude’s head during the healing scene, and that was after the actual violence had happened off-screen.
Unless I’m forgetting something, this is the first moment where we actually see an act of violence that results in a gory death, so it’s too bad that Ferret’s making stupid faces the whole time. Still, the sound effects make up for that — there’s a nice little riff of crunching sounds to represent bits of Ferret’s skull coming apart, and it’s quite effective.
Sadly, Ferret’s messy death is undercut a bit by the decision to give him a last little dying spasm. Cable falls to the ground unconscious, and we see the skullcrushed Ferret making a big deal about shaking his leg…
Then once he’s finished, in what is clearly two separate movements, he drops his leg and then lets his wrist go limp. Fucking clown.
The slow reveal of the creature at the top of the box office charts
3.33: Meeting the Monster
— Danny Horn