Wow, it has been a while since I watched a movie from the Maneater series. In fact, it was back during the mass shark movie watching, as there are two movies in the series that were among that group. Now a funny thing about this movie is that I have another connection to this movie, though it is a bit of an odd one. A couple of years ago, there was a game on Facebook where you could basically hunt and capture the different monsters that appeared in Syfy original movies. Now, this was something right up my alley and I decided to give it a try and I will admit it was fun at first but then got pretty boring and repetitive, as most of those games are (man did I wast a lot of time playing Mob Wars). Anyways, this was one of the monsters that had appeared in the game and I wound up looking up the movie so I could watch it. So let’s have some fun with today’s movie, Swamp Devil.
The plot: In the swamp outside of Gibbington, Vermont, A girl named Lisa is running through the trees and as Sheriff Nelson Bois and Deputy Jolene Harris lead a search party, including her father Jones, to find her, a strange hand burst out of the ground and drags her into the swamp. When the search party find her body, Jones breaks down and cries, with the search party unaware that another man, Howard Blaime, was in the swamp and seen the whole thing. Elsewhere, Howard’s daughter Melanie receives a call from Jimmy Fuller, an old neighbor from Gibbington, who tells her that her father is dying and suggest she come back to Gibbington. When Melanie arrives in Gibbington, she finds Jimmy waiting for her at the outskirts of town and the two talk for a minute before Melanie gives him a ride into town. As they are driving, Melanie asks how her father is doing and Jimmy admits that he isn’t dying, prompting Melanie to stop the car and yell at him to get out. Jimmy does as she asks but tells her that Howard is wanted for murder, explaining about what happened to Lisa, and Melanie doesn’t believe him but agrees to continue into town. Meanwhile, Nelson is telling Jones and his friend Bigg that they need to bring Howard in alive, not just kill him in the swamp, but Jones ignores him and decides to head out into the swamp with Bigg to find and kill Howard. Back in her car, Jimmy asks Melanie about her headache and has her head to Shelly’s diner, where his mom Shelly greets them. As Shelly goes to get something for Melanie to drink, Melanie finds her attention drawn to an old photograph of her dad and some other men around a campfire. After leaving Shelly’s diner, Jimmy drives Melanie to her dad’s cabin and Melanie wants to go looking for her dad but Jimmy warns that it is too dangerous as it is going to get dark soon and the posse would be stopping for the night as well. They head inside but when Jimmy comments about Melanie’s mother dying in a similar fashion to Lisa, Melanie gets upset so Jimmy leaves, saying he will walk home. Out in the woods, Jones and Bigg split up but as Bigg is looking around, he encounters a strange creature composed of branches and vines, which attacks and kills him. Back at Howard’s cabin, Melanie is fixing herself something to drink when Jolene and Nelson show up at the cabin, thinking Howard might be the one in there. As they question Melanie about her father’s whereabouts, Jones shows up and, learning that Melanie is Howard’s daughter, threatens to kill her but Nelson order Jolene to take Jones out of there. Nelson then talks with Melanie some more, saying how Howard had gone crazy and claimed a monster was out in the swamp and had killed his wife and friends and Nelson feels bad that he didn’t arrest Howard back then. After Nelson leaves, Jimmy shows up and talks with Melanie some more, apologizing for what he said earlier, then offers to keep watch in case Jones comes back to try anything that night while she is sleeping. When Melanie wakes up, she finds Jimmy has vanished and the flowers he brought her the night before have all died. As she is looking at the dirty footprints from where someone left the cabin, Nelson and Jolene show up, having staked out the cabin in case Howard showed up. When Melanie asks if they say Jimmy leave, Nelson and Jolene say they saw no sign of him, then Nelson leaves to meet up with the posse, leaving Jolene there to keep an eye on Melanie and in case Howard shows up. As he is driving along, Nelson sees Jimmy walking along the road and after greeting each other, tells him to hurry up to the cabin if he is going there but as he drives away, Nelson looks back and sees that Jimmy has simply disappeared. Back at the cabin, Jolene spots a picture of Howard and some other men, the same picture Melanie saw at Shelly’s diner, and comments about how all of the men in the picture, including her father, are dead except for Howard. After describing all of their deaths to Melanie, she tells her how she doesn’t believe her father’s death was a suicide like people believe and his death is what prompted her to go into law enforcement. Back in the woods, some vines make their way onto the road and pop Nelson’s tires. As he gets out of the car to investigate, some vines grab his legs and drag him out into the swamp, where a hand emerges from the ground and forces his head underwater. At the cabin, Jolene heard the sounds of Nelson’s gun firing and, getting worried about him, borrows Melanie’s car keys so she can go looking for him. After she leaves, Melanie decides to start cleaning the dirty footprints off the floor of the cabin when she discovers some newspaper articles hidden under a floorboard. Jimmy shows up and Melanie shows them to him but he says they should go looking for Howard and come back to those later. As they make their way into the swamp, Howard appears and holds a shotgun on Jimmy, telling him to get away from Melanie. As Melanie tries to tell Howard that Jimmy is a friend, Jones shows up threatening to shoot Howard. Jimmy tells Jones to put his gun down, then laughs and says their guns won’t hurt him as he transforms into the plant monster and attacks them, forcing Melanie, Howard, and Jones to make a run for it. Meanwhile, Jolene finds Nelson’s car and goes looking for him, eventually finding his body in the swamp. Jolene jumps in to retrieve the body and drags it back to Melanie’s car but as she tries to leave, monster Jimmy appears and attacks her. Meanwhile, Howard, Melanie, and Jones have managed to evade Jimmy and head back to the cabin, where Howard starts to explain what is going on. Howard explains that 17 years ago, a 12 year old girl was killed in the swamp and Jimmy, who was a transient passing through town, was their prime suspect. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any evidence but Howard and some other men track him down and beat a confession out of him but while Howard wanted to stop, as they had a confession, the other men continue to beat Jimmy to death, then bury him in the swamp. Shortly afterwards, Melanie’s mother was killed, with an newspaper article laying next to her body, and the men that had killed him were killed shortly afterwards. As they try to figure out how to kill Jimmy, Melanie remembers how he wouldn’t cross the city limits when she first met him and Howard realizes that might be a way to kill him. Suddenly, Jimmy attacks the cabin and grabs Melanie, dragging her back into the swamp. Howard and Jones chase after her and encounter Jolene, who tells them about Nelson being dead. Howard has Jones head back into tow to get some more ammunition and they head to the site where Howard and the others killed Jimmy, finding Melanie tied to a tree there. Howard and Jones distract Jimmy while Jolene tries to cut Melanie free but Jimmy knows she is there so they simply attack him, allowing Jolene to free Melanie. Howard tells the others to head to the county line while he distracts Jimmy but as they run off, Jimmy encounters them and kills Jones before he can make it across the line. Howard finds Jolene and Melanie and tells them to get into Jones’ truck and get out of there but as they do, Jimmy manages to get onto the truck and tries to kill them but jumps out as they cross the city limits. As Jolene turns the truck around so that it’s facing Jimmy, they see Howard coming up behind it in Melanie’s car. Wanting to keep Jimmy’s attention away from Howard and on them, Jolene starts driving towards Jimmy then swerves at the last minute, wrecking the truck but as Jimmy laughs at them, Howard slams into him in Melanie’s car, launching him past the city limits and causing him to explode into dirt and vines. Howard quickly goes over to the truck and gets Melanie and Jolene out of there before it explodes, then examines the debris before declaring Jimmy to be dead. but unknown to them, Shelly heads out to the swamp and resurrects Jimmy as another swamp monster.
This is actually a pretty decent, though somewhat predictable, movie to watch. The acting was good, with Bruce Dern (Howard), Cindy Sampson (Melanie), and Nicolas Wright (Jimmy) doing a great job in their roles. I also liked Robert Higden (Jones) but Allison Graham (Jolene) seemed to go through too many character shifts that made it hard to relate with her. The story was good but like I said, pretty predictable. I mean, when the movie starts and you see Jimmy refusing to cross the city line, you just know that is going to factor into the end of the movie. Considering the movie, I wasn’t expecting much out of the special effects but I was actually surprised as the effects were a lot better than I expected, with the monster looking really good. It’s not a cinematic gold mine but it is a decent way to kill 90 minutes if you get bored.
Rating: 3 out of 5