"Witch Creek Road #2" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Written by Garth Matthams
Illustrated by Kenan Halilovic
Colored by amb3r
2017, 32 Pages
Stop me if you've heard this one: A group of co-eds head into the woods for a raucous, alcohol-fueled adventure with hormones raging only to meet horrific deaths. No, this isn't a slasher movie. It's something far more sinister. What these kids encounter is not a madman with a machete. Instead, they come across some flesh-eating demons...and that's just the start. Things only get scarier and more bizarre from there. Can they survive? Do they want to after witnessing such atrocities?
Witch Creek Road jumps right into the action, picking up right where the previous issue abruptly ended. We see a young woman running for her life, finding shelter in a cabin shared by some of her classmates. She is terrified and clearly has been fleeing from certain death. What monsters were pursuing her through the woods?
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This is where the book pumps the brakes hard. Instead of continuing the terror, it loses all of its momentum by using half of the issue as a flashback, focusing on the bullying of one of the girls and how one of the guys changed his ways. There is certainly a place for character development and traditionally, this makes for stronger, scarier horror stories. With a slasher-esque story, it's not entirely necessary. I'm sure all of the characters have names, but we all know that none of them matter, as they're going to be slaughtered sooner or later. We can relate to them not by their shared experiences, but by the sheer terror on their faces.
Fortunately, Witch Creek Road jumps right back into that with the second half of the issue. It presents something so unnatural and disturbing that it's tough to look at it for longer than a few seconds. It just should not be. What makes it more unsettling is that it was once human. Artist Kenan Halilovic creates a manic yet haunting experience.
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This is what makes Witch Creek Road so effective. It ratchets up the horror and doesn't take the foot off the pedal. It goes full bore, turning into the monstrosity, forcing you to see it and drill into your mind. Meanwhile, the characters are struggling to come to grips with this new abomination while also trying to stay alive. It's this tension that works so well, which is why the detour to high school drama is so jarring and disappointing. A chunk of that could have been covered in the present day dialogue as the characters think of their next moves.
Witch Creek Road is Friday the 13th by way of Junji Ito. It is absolutely terrifying stuff. The only issue is that it gets bogged down with attempted development of characters that won't matter all that much in the scheme of things. This is the rare occasion where the less we know about these characters, the better. They are at their breaking point, having witnessed horrifying, supernatural violence that their minds are struggling to comprehend. How can they possibly get out of this?