Anyone sitting down to watch Inbred, the latest in a long line of mutant family horrors, would be well advised to persevere. Alex Chandon’s fright-fest arrives with the tagline, “They came in peace… they left in pieces”, and early evidence suggests an even greater lack of creativity. Swamped in annoying stereotypes, hackneyed plot twists and horror cliché, at first glance Paul Shrimpton’s script appears to get everything wrong.
It’s not until the delirious final act kicks in that you realise you were probably missing the point. Inbred borrows heavily from the likes of An American Werewolf in London, The Hills Have Eyes and Deliverance in order to set up its story, and the petty theft continues long after that. Shrimpton and Chandon have probably spent a lot of time watching recent French offerings too (The Ordeal springs to mind), which gives you some idea of what to expect from the final third of the movie.
Somewhere down the line, probably with the introduction of Seamus O’Neill (Dead Man’s Shoes), Inbred develops a rather infectious sense of humour. It’s bloody, it’s twisted and finally, after 45 minutes of tedium and despair, Inbred uncovers a personality of its own. Starring Jo Hartley (This is England), James Burrows (Robin Hood) and Nadine Rose Mulkerrin (Waterloo Road), with special appearances from The Horror Channel’s Emily Booth and Emmerdale’s Dominic Brunt, Inbred does for Yorkshire villages what the Manson Family did for California in the late 1960s.
Four young offenders and their care workers embark on a community service weekend in the strange remote Yorkshire village of Mortlake. Tim is a recovering arsonist, Sam is the pretty quiet type (practically mute when she’s not screaming), Sid is the token black lad, and Dwight – for want of a better word – is a complete dick. Thankfully, his put upon social workers are quick to come to the same conclusion as us. In a knowing exchange early on, Kate asks Geoff inquisitively, “Is he always such a prick?” To which the response is all too obvious to everyone but the annoying gobshite himself. From here on in, a worthy death sentence is high on everybody’s wish list.
It’s not until a visit to the local pub (The Dirty Hole) that they realise they should have checked in at the nearest Premier Inn. Complete with laugh-inducing locals, hairy homemade pork scratchings and a bizarre obsession with suggestive root vegetables, it soon becomes clear that they have chosen the wrong holiday destination. A minor incident with local youths rapidly escalates into something more sinister, and before long, the ravenous residents of Mortlake reveal their true colours – red mostly. I think we all know where it’s going from here.
So the set up is tried and tested and the imbreds of the title look absolutely ridiculous, but half way through this misfiring gem we’re introduced to the pubs friendly landlord, and Seamus O’Neill changes the shape of the movie completely. As soon as Jim utters the line, “I’ll give you something to ease the pain,” you know you’re in for a treat, and the effects work is a giddy pleasure from here. Overflowing with both practical and computer generated imagery, Chandon’s latest is worth a look for the gruesome FX work alone. The order in which the characters (both good and bad) die is surprisingly effective too, and on this occasion it helps that you wish every one of them a grisly death. Apart from the luckless Kate (Jo Hartley) perhaps, who seems to be the only character with both common sense and balls.
The actors commit themselves well enough, with special mention going to Hartley and Neil Leiper as the vegetable loving Gris. I should also praise Chris Waller, whose only other TV appearance was in an episode of Holby City. It takes a good actor to make a character detestable, and I hated Dwight from the first second I laid my eyes on him. Make no mistake about it though, this is O’Neill’s movie. Landlord Jim is the heart and soul of Inbred, and O’Neill lifts the film to new heights of twisted pleasure whenever he’s on screen. The final act serves up a bucket-load of playful humour, bizarre characters and grisly death scenes, washed down with a side order of anarchy and mayhem. It’s not particularly original but it is a lot of fun.
Fun and frights do arrive eventually – courtesy of Jim and his whacked-out family – resulting in a gore-drenched oddity that will have you singing along to every deadly beat. Eee by gum indeed. AW