Friday, 19 October 2012

Review: Inbred (2011)

poster gore dominic brunt chandon

Writer/director Alex Chandon came on my radar back in the early 90s when his cheaply shot on video shorts Bad Karma and Drillbit began doing the rounds of horror fans via illicit VHS tapes, swapped or sold via the small ads in fanzines. After his last film, Cradle of Fear hit big with the fans he's been a little quiet, so it's great to see him back behind the camera with Inbred, just out on DVD/Blu-ray after wowing fans at the festivals for the last year.
inbred alex chandon
A group of teenage offenders are being taken on a team/character building weekend by their two support workers, Kate (Jo Hartley) and Jeff (James Doherty). The big mistake they make is taking this obnoxious bunch of tearaways to a remote Yorkshire village of Mortlake, where outsiders are not particularly welcome, but do at least get to participate in the local's "show".
From the moment they set foot in the pub, The Dirty Hole, a place which makes the Slaughtered Lamb look like Disneyland, things are bound to go wrong. The only food on offer is home made pork scratchings; "The sign says hot food available here" quizzes Jeff to friendly but odd landlord Jim (Seamus O'Neal) "it says NOT food available here", this and the lack of Coca-cola (the group have to make do with a very suspicious looking homemade lemonade) means they don't intend to stay too long in the hostelry.
Setting about doing some "work"; salvaging copper from some abandoned railway carriages, two of the kids, Sam (Nadine Rose Mulkerrin) and Tim (James Burrows, also seen in Eden Lake) fall foul of three of the yokels, led by suitably creepy Gris (Neil Leiper). Jeff is accidentally injured while attempting to protect his charges, and while trying to get help from Jim, things suddenly get a whole lot worse for the group.
While on paper it may look like you've seen this all before, Chandon has surpassed all his previous output and made a wonderfully gory black comedy that is, and this is important as lots of films fail on this count, actually really scary. You just do not know how far these locals will go to "keep to themselves" From the bizarre shows that the visitors participate in (whether they like it or not); complete with a minstrel ringleader (PC? Not on Chandon's watch), which of course draws likeness' to that other insular village, Royston Vasey but my mind went instantly to Trevor Howard in the glorious Sir Henry at Rawlinson End, to the village's band of quite literally inbred folk - most with the same dental problems - strange peccadilloes (wait until you see the porno mags!) and their own village anthem, the surprisingly catchy "Ee by Gum" (written by long time Chandon collaborator Neil Keenan). The score (by Dave Andrews) is fantastic in itself, as is Ollie Downey's cinematography, who makes the stunning Yorkshire dales a foreboding place.
dirty inbred gore doninic brunt paddy podge chainsaw
An appearance from one of Emmerdale's most lovable actors, Dominic (Paddy) Brunt as the twitching, chainsaw wielding Podge is a highlight. (check out my review of his film, Before Dawn here) His Leatherface dance is brilliant, and he clearly having a ball, as are the other actors. Mat Fraser, the actor who thrilled us all in Kung Fu Flid, even pops up at one point. There is also a brief appearance from British scream queen Emily Booth which is hilarious. 
Despite the oddness of the locals, there is no attempt in the film to ridicule them or portray them as outcasts. They are just people with a different way of life. A homicidal, bestial and cannibalistic way, granted, but it is their way.
Full marks go also to the film's special effects, there's plenty of gore on offer here and it is surprisingly effective, with practical effects, polished off digitally.
inbred chandon minstrel
The Blu-ray release is topped off with an hour or so of on set video diary type featurettes, which are entertaining and show the fun the crew and especially Chandon had while making the film.
Highly recommended for those with both a strong stomach and a wickedly dark sense of humour. A cult classic already.
9 out of 10
inbred gore headshot

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Review: Before Dawn (2012)

before dawn dominic brunt zombies
Back in April I attended the rather ill advised (or at least badly organised/advertised) "MancMonCon". The highlight was seeing a 15 minute preview of Before Dawn, yet another indie zombie movie. I read the blurb and took the chance. Little did I know the director/star of said film was none other than TV soap vet Paddy from Emmerdale, Dominic Brunt. I was aware before this that he co-ran (with co-star Mark Charnock - Marlon) the annual Leeds Zombie Festival, but not about his aspirations as full blown horror star/director. Even from this short extract I was blown away by Brunt's take on the genre, and I finally managed to catch the full film at Grimmfest in Manchester, where the cast & crew were interviewed on stage afterwards by Starburst Magazine's Paul Mount (of Paul Mount's TV Zone fame).
before dawn dominic brunt zombies
Alex (Brunt) and Meg (Joanne Mitchell) are having marriage problems, and in an attempt to save their union have left the kids with Meg's mum, Eileen (Eileen O'Brien) and rented a cottage away from it all in the middle of the Yorkshire moors. Alex is trying desperately to have Meg to himself, even hiding her phone as the constant interruptions threaten their peace. When she goes out jogging and is attacked and bitten by what seems to be a rabid stranger, any thought of peace goes out the window as it becomes apparent that all is not right with the outside world.

before dawn dominic brunt zombies
before dawn dominic brunt zombies
The film marks Brunt's directorial debut and he does a fantastic job of creating a believable, real world scenario juxtaposed with a horrific zombie apocalypse. Hints that something is wrong are given from the very beginning; a distant scream, an abandoned car, but they are more than just clumsy plot pointers, they ease us into the nightmare scenario. The undead threat here are of the 28 Days Later rage filled variety - with a neat little twist in that they appear dormant until roused by anything nearby - and are truly terrifying. Alex's first encounter with one in the garage is brilliant - tense and exciting. An interesting development brought in later in the film (as well as plenty of exposition) by a cameo from Shameless star Nicky Evans (who looks like he's been transported from the set of a 70s grindhouse film) causes Alex to make a decision that can only be made by a man so desperate to save what he can of his life. Had this just been a regular marriage in crisis film it would have been powerful enough, the added zombies and gore (of which there is a surprisingly large amount) amps the tension. It is probably the scariest zombie film for a while, and it doesn't fall for the cliches of "oh here's a gun - blam! blam!" What we have here is more akin to kitchen sink horror, those involved have never had to fight for their lives before so wielding a weapon is not second nature.
The music compliments the visuals perfectly, idyllic then aggressive when it has to be, and everyone involved should be very proud and happy with the result. While I can't see it being a crowd pleaser (it is far too downbeat for that) it deserves a major release and success.
before dawn dominic brunt zombies
Grimmfest: Brunt, Evans, Mitchell and digital FX man Neale Myers
Before Dawn is expected to have a DVD release early next year, with a possible cinema run too but until then it is doing the festival circuit. Make sure go and see it. More than highly recommended.
9 out of 10