Jo Hartley (Kate), Seamus O'Neill (Jim), James Doherty (Jeff), James Burrows (Tim), Neil Leiper (Gris), Chris Waller (Dwight), Dominic Brunt (Pudge), Terry Haywood (Zeb), Nadine Rose Mulkerrin (Sam)
Directed by Alex Chandon
The Short Version: At first glance, this would appear to be another standard WRONG TURN or TEXAS CHAINSAW clone with its bloody bumpkins and power tools. There are shades of that here, but Chandon's hamlet of psycho hillbillies would feel more at home with the Pleasant Valley cut-ups from 2000 MANIACS (1964). Fans of the popular, darkly humorous, horror tinged Brit series, THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN will likely want to hang out with the hicks to pick out all the references. Impressive photography and a fine musical score are sandwiched around lots of squishy gore, gloriously offensive imagery, uncouth behavior, maggot eating, and a Grand Guignol atmosphere. A grubby, ghoulishly enjoyable little movie.
Two social workers take a group of four troubled youths out to the Yorkshire village of Mortlake on a character building, community service jaunt. Upon mingling with the bizarre denizens of the isolated hamlet, the group discover the entire town are depraved maniacs who don't take kindly to strangers.
In the tradition of Tobe Hooper's THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974) and Herschell Gordon Lewis's 2000 MANIACS (1964) comes this gore-drenched British horror film with a darkly humorous touch. Described as a horror comedy by most, these comedic bits never overtake the movie, but only add to the disturbing nature. Chandon's movie is also incredibly offensive at times, so you timid, politically correct viewers out there beware.
Ollie Downey's photography is stunning, perfectly capturing the right mood at regular intervals. His lens gets the most out of the 2.35:1 framing whether it be shots of the village, or some wide expanse out in the country. This sort of movie isn't normally afforded such care to its look, so it's a pleasant surprise to see it here. A fair number of shots in the movie evoke a gloomily majestic ambiance -- these emphasizing the vast isolation surrounding the scant pockets of civilization such as the rotting morbidity of Mortlake.
The script contains some decent characters for its protagonists, some of which we're supposed to be annoyed by. Everybody gets a scene or two for us to at least get a feel for who they are before the screaming and running starts. Thankfully, the fate of the characters aren't telegraphed as some die that we don't expect to; and the most unlikable of the protagonists redeems himself when the chips are down.
Performances are good across the board, but one character steals the show from everybody else. Seamus O'Neill is absolutely bonkers as Jim, the homicidal patriarch of this backwoods, inbred haven. We're already pretty sure he's off his rocker after he makes lemonade that "tastes like piss" and passes out these nasty looking pork rind type snacks with hair on them (they're referred to as pig scratchings). His demented status is assured during a rather nasty kitchen scene followed by his donning blackface (looking like Papa Lazarou from THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN) and lording over a sick, twisted circus of horrors for the amusement of the towns misanthropic populace (some of which are individuals with real deformities).
This is where the nastiness kicks into overdrive and the film takes on a strong resemblance to Herschell Gordon Lewis's 2000 MANIACS (1964); even down to the use of a song the main motley crew of madmen rapturously sing a few times over the course of the film.
It's worth noting that while the plot is of the modern city slickers vs. backwoods hillbillies variety, the city folk are just as much outcasts as the depraved members of Mortlake. The four troubled kids have varied backgrounds ranging from arson to gang activity. The two social workers have their differences with Jo being the stronger, more approachable of the two. She connects on a more personable level with the kids while Jeff comes off more like a school teacher. It's not a great deal of exposition, but it's nice to see its implementation before the screaming and bloody violence takes total control about 40 minutes in.
Dave Andrews foreboding musical cues suit the material, and successfully aid in the build-up. On a few occasions, the music leaves you wondering just what is coming next, or just how long Chandon will milk the suspense before it all goes to hell for our six protagonists.
There are a lot of good things in this movie, but there's also some not so good things, as well. The gore is creative, splashy and edited very well. However, the integration of CGI standing in for massive squibs will put off fans of old fashioned blood splatters (they're getting to be extinct nowadays); yet the camera never lingers on these moments so you're not given time to dwell on the fakery. Still, there's enough practical effects to keep gore-met connoisseurs satiated.
For continuity spotters, there's a huge editing gaff that occurs near the end. Once the last few survivors are trapped in an old house, our cretinous quasi-cannibals lay siege to it. Then suddenly, they have wandered away from the house to mourn the death of one of their own. In the next scene, they're back at the house again. It's moderately jarring, and very noticeable.
Finally, the accents are so thick it's difficult to make out what's being said at times, but this isn't a blight on the film at all, just a personal observation. The actions do the bulk of the talking, anyways. There's one word, though, that is universal, and it gets a lot of mileage out of the script. The overuse of 'fuck' brings to mind the annoyance of Rob Zombie movies. Virtually everybody blurts it out at any given time during the movie.
This is a straight up horror picture, although it's billed as a horror-comedy by many. There is comedy here, but it's of the TEXAS CHAINSAW style of grueling horror/humor mix (likened to the "look what your brother did to the door" type of spiel). Some of this black humor feels deliberate at times, but mostly the sense of dread dominates. Critics seem divided on INBRED, but this reviewer was pleasantly surprised by it. The photography, music, storyline, the macabre costumes, filthy characters, and Chandon's refreshingly offensive approach are choice ingredients in this revolting, if tastily nasty stew.
This review is representative of the Xlrator DVD.