Creature Was Stirring, A (Blu-ray Review)

  • Reviewed by: Dennis Seuling
  • Review Date: Feb 28, 2024
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Creature Was Stirring, A (Blu-ray Review)


Damien LeVeck

Release Date(s)

2023 (February 13, 2023)


Skubalon/Paper Street Pictures (Well Go USA Entertainment)
  • Film/Program Grade: C
  • Video Grade: A
  • Audio Grade: B+
  • Extras Grade: D

A Creature Was Stirring (Blu-ray)

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The horror of claustrophobia is created when a group of people are isolated in a confined location with a monster afoot. In A Creature Was Stirring, a raging snowstorm keeps four individuals trapped as an odd relationship between mother and daughter escalates into a waking nightmare.

Nurse and single mom Faith (Chrissy Metz, Stay Awake) cares for her feverish daughter Charm (Annalise Basso, Snowpiercer) by taking regular temperature readings, monitoring her intake of experimental medicine, and often keeping her in a locked room. Charm is suffering from much more than a normal ailment. If her temperature falls out of a certain range, she will go into convulsions with even worse consequences to follow.

Faith appears to be a devoted mother. Their relationship, however, can sometimes be brittle. Charm is an artist who makes drawings that channel her rage. We learn that Faith is a recovering addict. Her dedication to Charm’s health is a way for her to alleviate her feelings of guilt about the troubled old days.

A blizzard is raging when Faith hears sounds and voices in another part of the house. She investigates, a spiked baseball bat in hand, and discovers a couple of home invaders, siblings Kory (Connor Paolo, Better Half) and Liz (Scout Taylor-Compton, Edge of Insanity). They claim only to be seeking shelter from the storm, but they have another motive to have sneaked into this particular house. Faith is not pleased by their intrusion but allows them to remain.

Liz and Kory suspect that Charm might be kept in the house against her will. A good deal of screen time is devoted to the sister and brother sneaking around the house, hunting for clues, until they discover a horrifying truth.

The creature of the title is a deeply shadowed, quilled monster—a kind of mutant porcupine—that creeps about, making eerie sounds. It prefers dark corners and dimly lit rooms, and can grow to enormous size. The monster is revealed gradually until we see it in its entirety late in the film. The design of the creature is puzzling and not especially terrifying. Its presence is explained in a series of twists.

Screenwriter Shannon Wells and director Damien Leveck set the film during the Christmas season, and flickering tree lights and hues of red and green dominate. The lighting within the house often has a dreamlike look. There are a few jump scares, but they’re kept to a minimum. Leveck gets good performances from the small cast, especially Metz, who comes across as a loving, if overbearing, mother. Psychological horror, family dysfunction, and creature thrills combine to make a metaphorical statement on addiction. However, the film seems to run out of dramatic steam long before the final credits roll.

Leveck undermines suspense with extraneous plot tendrils that impede narrative flow and pacing. The creature of the title is more laughable than scary. When we first see its silhouette, it looks like a balled-up porcupine rolling about—hardly a frightening image. The actors give it their all, but they’re struggling against an often convoluted script.

A Creature Was Stirring was captured digitally by director of photography Alexander Chinnici with Sony Venice cameras and presented in the aspect ratio of 2.39:1. Many scenes are very dark, both to obscure the special-effects monster and to enhance mood. The home is bathed in red and green hues. Complexions look natural and details are well delineated, including Faith’s spiked baseball bat, objects in the kitchen, Charm’s drawings, and a tattoo on Liz’s back.

There are two soundtrack options, English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English Stereo. English SDH subtitles are available. Dialogue is clear throughout. Unsettling, weird low frequencies create tension. Sound design is most noticeable when we hear the creature’s movements, a combination of scurrying and dragging. A subdued, haunting rendition of What Child Is This? (Greensleeves) sung under the opening credits sets the tone for the eerie events to follow. The rest of the score, by Matthew O’Malley, is loud and lacks subtlety.

Bonus materials on the R-rated Blu-ray release from Well Go USA include the following:

  • Theatrical Trailer (2:05)
  • Mercy Road Preview (2:19)
  • Your Lucky Day Preview (2:15)
  • Infiltration Preview (2:18)

Working for A Creature Was Stirring are its brief running time and Metz’s performance. She plays Faith with nuanced layers and keeps her sufficiently enigmatic that we don’t know immediately what her motives are concerning Charm. The film might have benefited from eliminating the monster to explore in greater depth the complex relationship between mother and daughter. As it is, the film is confusing, with a disappointing finale.

- Dennis Seuling