Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #197
Number of Views: One
Release Date: 29 August 2011 (Film4 FrightFest), 8 October 2012 (UK)
Sub Genre: Backwoods Horror/Comedy
Country of Origin: United Kingdom/Germany
Running Time: 90 minutes
Director: Alex Chandon
Producers: Yazid Benfeghoul, Michael Kraetzer, Margaret Milner
Screenplay: Alex Chandon, Paul Shrimpton
Special Effects: Linzi Foxcroft, Duncan Jarman
Visual Effects: Alex Chandon, Adam Comiskey, Adrian Banton
Cinematography: Ollie Downey
Score: Dave Andrews
Editing: Oliver Griffin
Studios: New Flesh Films, Split Second Films
Distributor: Anderson Digital (US), Anchor Bay Entertainment (UK)
Stars: Jo Hartley, Seamus O’Neill, James Doherty, James Burrows, Neil Leiper, Chris Waller, Nadine Rose Mulkerrin, Terry Haywood, Damien Lloyd-Davies, Derek Melling, Mark Rathbone, Dominic Brunt, Emily Booth, Simon Coomes
Suggested Audio Candy
Dave Andrews “Ee By Gum”
It has been a long hiatus for Alex Chandon. Despite working in various capacities during the interim, it had been a lean decade for the British indie filmmaker leading up to Inbred, his third full-length feature. After the Gothic styling of Cradle of Fear this comes as something of a radical departure. Pitched somewhere between backwoods splatterfest and blackest comedy, it poses the question ‘are you local?’ in much the same manner as British treasure The League of Gentlemen, although the focus here is digital splatter and plenty of it.
Chandon’s lifelong devotion to seventies/eighties horror is very much clear from the offset as he bases many of his characters and scenarios on classic American horror cinema. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is one such glaring influence as is An American Werewolf in London; while Straw Dogs, Deliverance and The Hills Have Eyes are all echoed throughout. Originality isn’t high on the list of priorities as proven by the film’s somewhat lamentable tagline “They came in peace… they left in pieces.” Instead the director takes a handful of well-trodden themes and ideas and cooks them into a scrumptious Yorkshire hot-pot. As an eighties horror child myself, I can relate effortlessly and he does a marvellous job of stirring these familiar themes into his delicious blackened broth.
The plot revolves around a group of young offenders Sam (Nadine Mulkerrin), Tim (James Burrows), Dwight (Chris Waller) and Zeb (Terry Haywood) and their care workers Kate (Jo Hartley) and Jeff (James Doherty) who spend a team-building weekend in the remote northern village of Mortlake, salvaging salable metals from disused trains and the like. No sooner have they set foot in the local tavern, which calls to mind The Slaughtered Lamb and offers ominously hairy pork scratchings and other questionable local delicacies, than they have sussed that something is not nearly right about the townsfolk. They really should’ve trusted their guts on this one.
The first thing in abundance is foul language and Inbred met with some fairly damning judgments based on its flagrant overuse of expletives. Having worked for five years in the youth service with scallywags just as obnoxious as the ones depicted here, I can confirm that this is purely how they interact and their potty mouths are indeed totally authentic according to breed. Their behavior and cocky southern swagger is bang on the money and, the rascals, very well-played by the four upstarts. In addition, Kate and Jeff are equally well realized, reacting as one would expect from workers in conflict with government legislation and their own passion for making a difference in their community.
The yokels are your typical northern archetypes and include some rather kaleidoscopic characters, none more so than ringleader Jim (Seamus O’Neill) whose blackened features call to mind Papa Lazarou and Podge (Dominic Brunt) who is a dead ringer for Leatherface and wields a chainsaw just to eliminate any doubts as to the direct reference. They lay on their northern hospitality by way of a demented jamboree, whereby their quarry are tormented in the extreme and given the most horrendous send offs imaginable. A request for goggles to be worn by the buck-toothed audience members as they congregate around the ‘splash zone’ during one particularly mean-spirited departure demonstrates the jet black comedy Chandon is aiming for. It calls to mind the Roman Amphitheaters of old and the baying revelers are wonderfully demented.
The first act is satisfied with setting the scene, steadily cranking up the tension, and Ollie Downey’s masterful photography of the lush Yorkshire moors is worthy of commendation. However we came for the Grue and, on this count, Chandon delivers the goods and then some. A suitably gore-slathered opening featuring a welcome cameo from British horror starlet Emily Booth hints at what is on the platter, choosing not to keep its blood lust low-key but instead spraying it about with reckless abandon right from the get go. He doesn’t put all his eggs in one basket thankfully as the dispatches in the latter stages of Inbred are nigh on off-the-chart.
Which brings me to the effects. Inbred is a bizarre creature, choosing to mesh practical SFX with digitized grue is a not-entirely successful endeavor as some otherwise impressive dispatches come across a little too ‘clean’, although this is a minor gripe as there is so much of the red sauce jettisoning across the screen that beggars really can’t be choosers. For the most part they work superbly and there’s a level of excess rarely seen in mainstream horror. Cradle of Fear should have acted as suitable indicator for Chandon’s penchant for hard-line bloodletting and, he more than makes up for his lengthy lay-off on this count.
The carnival itself is supremely realized and adds immeasurably to the consternation, showcasing the inbreds’ unhinged repertoire for madness delightfully. O’Neill leads the line with great gusto, hedging bets with his buddies as to the manner of the playthings’ demises and spouting all kinds of glorious gibberish in his thick regional dialect. He and, to more subtle extent, Brunt excel in their roles and offer a brace of antagonists worthy of franchising.
One would hope that Inbred is the vehicle which alerts America to the talented Chandon as, historically, his features haven’t traveled well. Adopting the same darkly comedic approach as Paul Andrew Williams’ The Cottage, Christopher Smith’s Severance and Jake West’s Doghouse; he once again shows that British horror is alive and kicking. It will no doubt offend the less battle-hardened amongst us with its crass language and OTT kills but for all those of us left I say “get in”.
Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 7/10
Grue Factor: 5/5
For the Grue-Guzzlers: You want splatter? You got it. It comes to us via cleaver, chainsaw, hunting knife, hatchet, double-barreled shotgun, petrol pump, life-sized road kill, horse hooves (you heard Keeper correctly), fox snares and strategically placed perimeter landmines complete with tampering ferrets reminding us why they don’t make suitable domestic pets. What more could your heart possibly desire?
Richard Charles Stevens
Keeper of The Crimson Quill
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