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rochefort [Film Festival 10.15.12] horror

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When you're watching a movie called "Inbred", you have to set aside some expectations, I suppose. For starters, you're probably not going to get a super-sophisticated treatise on the ever-widening gulf between the rich and the poor, and it's probably also unlikely that this will be a hard-hitting exploration of the unfortunate effects of breeding in too narrow of a gene pool. But if you've seen a movie or two, you can't be faulted for expecting it to be either a gruesome or perhaps blackly comic horror picture in the vein of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" or "The Hills Have Eyes". "Inbred" definitely owes a lot to those films, and director Alex Chandon does a decent job of keeping the squirm and ick factor high, but most clearly wants this latest Hillbilly Horror entry to be ironically funny. There are admittedly a few surprises here and there, but they're deflated by a flat shooting style and jokes that simply don't connect.

A group of teenaged juvie criminals and their adult handlers take a trip to the Yorkshire countryside to learn how to work together and build more socially constructive skills. Their two guardians Kate (Jo Hartley) and and Jeff (James Doherty) have the kids' best interests in mind, but different ideas of how to get these wayward youngsters to relate to them. They arrive in Mortlake, a small town with a surplus of abandoned houses, and set about cleaning up their weekend cottage. As a reward for their initial efforts, Kate and Jo take them to the town's only pub, The Dirty Hole, and it's here that they meet the townsfolk, a collection of hunchbacked, bucktoothed perverts who waste no time in kidnapping the new arrivals to use as victims in a makeshift vaudeville show.

There's certainly one area where "Inbred" delivers the goods: there's gore galore here, and a couple of the kills are fairly memorable, especially one instance of death by fecal overflow. The blending of practical gore and cgi is one of the better I've seen in a while, and it's clear that a good deal of the budget went into the many beheadings, crushed bodies, and exit wounds on display. But in most other areas the production approach is surprisingly mediocre. I mentioned in a recent review that many horror films these days have flip-flopped in terms of quality, and often feature excellent performances and production values but a lack of shrewd or engaging ideas. That's not really the case here. The cast of victims and good guys are serviceable at first, but once the killing starts their portrayals devolve into a series of badly-improv'ed hysterics. And the inbred locals are much worse, as if everybody prepared for their roles by watching "Straw Dogs" and "Hee Haw" simultaneously. Hunched over, skulking, and sporting obviously fake wonky teeth, they're never menacing despite the horrific things they do, which makes the whole affair less terrifying than just gross. This isn't helped by the often static and simplistic camera work; the film's look is competent, but hardly noteworthy, and there's never a sense that the aesthetic matches the subject matter. When you're telling a story about murderous countryfolk with a penchant for animal sex, it's probably not a good idea if every location is relatively sparse and clean, regardless of the occasional severed head on the mantle.

But I'll give director Chandon credit for one key thing, at least. There are quite a few bait-and-switch moments, scenes in which you think you know how things will play out because of the Rules of Horror Movies, and the script turns quite a few of these cliches inside out. Characters have moments of brief heroic redemption, only to suffer decidedly unheroic deaths, and several plans to outwit or turn the tables on their attackers backfire on our victims, often with gleefully over-the-top results. In this sense "Inbred" manages to sing for its supper, to some extent. Ultimately, though, it's nowhere near the original "Chainsaw"'s class, neither intense enough nor groundbreaking enough to be anything more than a slightly updated exercise in horrific hopelessness

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quietearth (9 years ago) Reply

Holy shit is that poster inaccurate.

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