Well, this was unusual for me – a proper ‘Genre’ horror comedy, at a special screening (the first with this soundtrack) at the Hyde Park Picture House as part of the ‘Fanomenon’ strand of the Leeds Film Festival.
First thing to say – I’m not really the target market for this kind of film. It’s a B movie gorefest, a low-budget (nothing wrong with that) broad comedy schlocker that relies on bad taste and (pretty good) special effects and the ‘yuk’ factor for both its laughs and its horror. I have to admit that, while I laughed quite a bit and winced some more, it didn’t really make much of an impact with me. I want an emotional or intellectual connection with my films and this didn’t score well there, though I’m aware that this isn’t the point of this kind of film.
Ok, that out of the way, to the movie itself. The Director opened with a bit of absurd violence, for the benefit of genre afficionados, I suppose, and then spent the first half hour establishing characters and situation before returning to the ultra-violence, an investment that paid off, to an extent. The acting ranged from moderately good to adequate but no-one was terrible, so the characters worked and there were clearly established ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’, for us to give a damn about who lives or dies.
Two care workers and four of their reluctant charges arrive at a remote Yorkshire village to embark on a ‘team building’ weekend. The team leader is officious and distant and his assistant more of the ‘you can talk to me’ kindly and sympathetic. The kids range from the gobby and arrogant to the introverted and non-communicative. As they arrive, two of the more sympathetic kids catch a glimpse of the last outsider to visit, the man who is supposed to be meeting them to set up the weekend. The house they are staying at is a wreck, the local pub (“The Dirty Hole” – yes, this is the level of humour) an unwelcoming rural pub (an echo of “The Slaughtered Lamb” but anyone who’s visited a properly rural pub will recognise this kind of place). As the kids encounter the locals, the inevitable conflicts build until they explode in gory, splattering violence.
The film borrows heavily from loads of sources; there is an organist who resembles Eric Idle’s Monty Python character from “Blackmail”, another Python reference, to “Mr Creosote”, American Werewolf in London, Papa Lazarou from League of Gentlemen, , The Wicker Man and more. While spotting these is fun and the Director openly acknowledged them in the Q and A session after the film, they were a little obvious and unfiltered for my taste, too close to their source material to be as much fun for me as this evidently was for much of the rest of the audience. If that audience response was anything to go by, my luke-warm response to the film is not a good indicator to how this will go down with genre fans, who might well be more enthusiastic.