Monday, November 18, 2013

Backwoods Bastards: INBRED (2011)

If you were on the scene back in the early '90s you would have no doubt seen, or at least heard of, Alex Chandon. After creating quite a buzz with his admittedly derivative, but no less entertaining splatter shorts BAD KARMA (1991) and DRILLBIT (1992) Chandon got his shot at a DTV feature film and for some reason went for an intentionally over-campy, quasi-meta spoof of '70s sci-fi/fantasy soft-core films with PERVIRELLA (1997). This led to his career having a sudden case of extreme death... until 2001 when Chandon managed to get the widely hated (again) CRADLE OF FEAR released direct to DVD. Honestly, I couldn't be bothered with CRADLE, but for some reason seeing his name pop up another 10 years later with INBRED I had to look. I only have myself to blame.

A couple of social workers (James Doherty and Jo Hartley) take some juvenile delinquents out to the country to an abandoned cottage where they will be doing team exercises as part of their rehab. Of course as soon as the bus is in motion, the cliches start rolling in fast and furious. The house is a complete wreck, the locals are all weirdo hicks, the beer tastes like piss, the town has a dark secret and things are about to get very nasty. The locals, as it turns out are a bunch of inbred nutters that capture wayward travelers and put them in a raggedy vaudeville show run by the abusive town patriarch Jim (Seamus O'Neill) in blackface. Sure they like to eat human flesh (though this is never shown), but they like a good evening's entertainment too. Not a bad premise by any means.

Chandon spends almost an hour setting the stage, so to speak, for a hybrid of 2000 MANIACS (1964) meets HOSTEL (2005). In addition to trying to mimic the intentional comedy of MANIACS, he tries to stretch the suspense for what he we are assuming to be a particularly vile torture show, only to completely back off at the last minute. This may be because in his heart Chandon wants this to be a dark comedy, but it ends up feeling like he's pulling his punches. For instance one of the boys is dressed up as a girl and nailed down spread-eagle on the floor while Jim's son dresses up like a scarecrow with a large carrot protruding from his pelvis. It seems as if something unbelievably nasty is about to do happen, then after shoving a CG asparagus slowly up his victim's nose (don't ask, I don't know either), a couple of maidens lead a horse in. At this point I start thinking that this is going to be some sort of brutal Joe D'Amato homage. After lingering over the screaming and wailing victim, the horse steps on the side of the kids head and it's over. I'm not saying that I particularly wanted to see the kid get raped by a hillbilly or a horse, I'm just saying that Chandon likes to get the audience all worked up by implying that some extreme nastiness is en route and then decides to play it safe.

That is not to say INBRED isn't gory, it definitely is. Plenty of CG and latex is slung about with wild abandon, but in this day and age, (as much as I hate to say it) it takes more than a CG exploding head to make a movie interesting, and quite frankly, unless you are doing CG and latex like ADAM CHAPLIN (2010), just stick with the latex please. Some of the gags are pretty impressive, but we've seen Chandon deliver bucketloads of practical effects in the past. I wish the lure of the CG siren wasn't so too difficult to resist. Even so, it's the lack of originality and the weak attempts at comedy that cause INBRED to falter.

While the film, for the most part, looks great and is technically proficient, O'Neill and low-rent regular Hartley seem to be delivering performances that belong in a much worthier film. There are many little moments where the film seems to break away, seeming turning into something interesting, only to quickly drop right back into moments that feel like we've seen them many times before in many other films. For instance, when it comes to the introduction of the village, Chandon does a pretty good job of making them creepy in a humorous way, but feels the need to "pay homage" to the classic pub scene from AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981).

Even worse, Chandon starts out on the right foot. The opening sequence is an 1800s period piece with a woodcutter who turns his axe on his employer. I was actually caught off guard by this, and while it is rather cheap looking, I thought it was a really refreshing concept. Seriously, nobody does low-rent period flicks anymore, unless they are doing some over-wrought '70s camp vehicle. I was enjoying it, until they pull out and show that it is just some old video nasty that the boys on the bus are laughing at while watching on their smartphone. The joke is on me, I guess. This is probably Chandon's best feature to date, so I figure at this rate by 2035 we will probably get a pretty good movie out of him. Or maybe he'll finish that period slasher flick. I was kind of enjoying that.

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