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Thursday, 21 August 2008

Plague Town (2008)

Director: David Gregory

14 years ago in Ireland, Mrs Flynn gives birth to something that even the local priest doesn't think is one of God's creatures. He plans to kill it, as he has presumably killed others before it, but the Flynns want no more of it and they take him out instead. A golf club to the back of a priest's head and an axe to the front is a pretty solid way to make an impact at the beginning of a horror story, that's for sure. Back in the present, the Monahans, an American family, arrive to revisit their roots and bond as a family unit. It would appear that they're in serious need of bonding because they're a dysfunctional bunch, though dysfunctional in a very believable way.

Dr Jerry Monahan seems to be pretty stable, though not always prone to the best decisions in the world. There's no Mrs Monahan, though there's a Mrs Monahan to be, Annette Rothman, and she's the real reason for the bonding concept. Jerry wants everyone to get to know each other, away from the distractions of modern city life. He has two daughters, Jessica and Molly, and they really don't get on. Molly seems to be trying but she's not just fighting her loathing of her sister, she also has chemical imbalances. Jessica is a prize bitch, who did her bit to spoil the whole trip by fetching along some English guy that she met on the way. He's Robin, and he has plenty to say about how dumb the Americans are.

It doesn't take long before they start arguing and it doesn't take long before they get lost, after missing the last bus back to town. They're stuck in the countryside and all the people meet don't seem quite right. They look normal enough but there's something not quite right about any of them. They stand in the middle of fields as if waiting for something, they have a strange way of suggesting concern while implying some far more sinister and they refer to outsiders as seeds. And yet these are completely sane and normal people compared with the other folks in the neighbourhood that the Monahans are soon to discover.

This is a seriously good horror movie made by someone who would seem to know precisely what he's doing. David Gregory has no less than 91 directorial credits at IMDb, but only two appear to be feature films: the first, Scathed, back in 1994, and this one, due for release next year. All the rest are documentary shorts or featurettes, mostly on names associated with the exploitation genres. The subjects literally comprise a Who's Who of the exploitation industry and he's obviously picked up a few pointers here and there. This one plays out like Deliverance meets Death Line meets The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I'm reminded also of an eighties Guy N Smith horror novel called Cannibals, but that one was set in Scotland not Ireland.

Most notably Gregory manages to find that ever elusive balance point so he can provide a subtle film that contains scenes of extreme gore. That's not an easy task, in fact it's probably the most difficult task any horror director can set himself. I'm not saying that this one's perfect, because it isn't, but it comes a lot closer than anything else I can remember in a long while. He's aided by some very cool character designs, that are simple but massively effective, and a very good set of performances by actors who have either done nothing before this or close to nothing. This is an awesome independent film that I hope makes it to the big time.Director: David Gregory

14 years ago in Ireland, Mrs Flynn gives birth to something that even the local priest doesn't think is one of God's creatures. He plans to kill it, as he has presumably killed others before it, but the Flynns want no more of it and they take him out instead. A golf club to the back of a priest's head and an axe to the front is a pretty solid way to make an impact at the beginning of a horror story, that's for sure. Back in the present, the Monahans, an American family, arrive to revisit their roots and bond as a family unit. It would appear that they're in serious need of bonding because they're a dysfunctional bunch, though dysfunctional in a very believable way.

Dr Jerry Monahan seems to be pretty stable, though not always prone to the best decisions in the world. There's no Mrs Monahan, though there's a Mrs Monahan to be, Annette Rothman, and she's the real reason for the bonding concept. Jerry wants everyone to get to know each other, away from the distractions of modern city life. He has two daughters, Jessica and Molly, and they really don't get on. Molly seems to be trying but she's not just fighting her loathing of her sister, she also has chemical imbalances. Jessica is a prize bitch, who did her bit to spoil the whole trip by fetching along some English guy that she met on the way. He's Robin, and he has plenty to say about how dumb the Americans are.

It doesn't take long before they start arguing and it doesn't take long before they get lost, after missing the last bus back to town. They're stuck in the countryside and all the people meet don't seem quite right. They look normal enough but there's something not quite right about any of them. They stand in the middle of fields as if waiting for something, they have a strange way of suggesting concern while implying some far more sinister and they refer to outsiders as seeds. And yet these are completely sane and normal people compared with the other folks in the neighbourhood that the Monahans are soon to discover.

This is a seriously good horror movie made by someone who would seem to know precisely what he's doing. David Gregory has no less than 91 directorial credits at IMDb, but only two appear to be feature films: the first, Scathed, back in 1994, and this one, due for release next year. All the rest are documentary shorts or featurettes, mostly on names associated with the exploitation genres. The subjects literally comprise a Who's Who of the exploitation industry and he's obviously picked up a few pointers here and there. This one plays out like Deliverance meets Death Line meets The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I'm reminded also of an eighties Guy N Smith horror novel called Cannibals, but that one was set in Scotland not Ireland.

Most notably Gregory manages to find that ever elusive balance point so he can provide a subtle film that contains scenes of extreme gore. That's not an easy task, in fact it's probably the most difficult task any horror director can set himself. I'm not saying that this one's perfect, because it isn't, but it comes a lot closer than anything else I can remember in a long while. He's aided by some very cool character designs, that are simple but massively effective, and a very good set of performances by actors who have either done nothing before this or close to nothing. This is an awesome independent film that I hope makes it to the big time.

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