Inbred is The Texas Chainsaw Massacre by way of Monty Python. It is preposterously violent, the gore hilariously over-the-top, and it never takes itself seriously. It’s the kind of movie you watch for the kills alone, the kind of movie in which the characters exist only to be obliterated, in which all technical proficiencies are levelled at the gore effects and little else.
Yet, Inbred—though it is clearly meant to be one of those films described above—is more than that kind of film, and that, unexpectedly, is its greatest weakness.
We follow a group of four misfits, the kind of troubled youths who end up in a home for troubled youths and get carted off on vaguely-organized excursions by their handlers. The handlers, in this case, are Jeff and Kate. Jeff is a sad combination of wet blanket and doormat—like a soaked comforter left just outside someone’s front door, I guess. Kate is the more open, less structured of the two minders, the type of person who leads without ever letting others know they’ve been following her all along.
Jeff and Kate are taking their quartet of problem kids to the Brit equivalent of Just-this-Side-of-Nowhere’s-Asshole. The town looks abandoned, except for the occasional dog and the throng of children poking a living scarecrow with sticks. Yes, you read that right.
After cleaning out their accommodations, the group head for the local pub, The Dirty Hole. The Hole’s patrons all look, well, um, inbred, but the bartender, Jim, seems like a decent enough sort. Unfortunately, Sam, the lone troubled youth of the female persuasion, draws the categorically unwanted attention of a carrot-wielding creep. That’s when the trouble starts.
But all that stuff I described, all that stuff leading up to the trouble starting? It’s extremely well done. The dialogue is sharp, the characters are likable—even Dwight, the douche among the youth, the kinda guy whose potential peaked at ten and so he strives to stay there both emotionally and psychologically; he’s not a pleasant guy, but he’s an interesting, well-drawn character. All of the protagonists are fleshed-out and interesting. We want to root for them—and that’s a problem.
Once the trouble starts, the characters are killed off one by one, as is expected. The kills are absolutely fantastic. The director, Alex Chandon, has experience in special effects and it shows. The kills are fun, creative and the gore realistic. I saw this film at a midnight showing and the crowd laughed and howled with every crushed skull and torn limb. There’s no suspense here—this kind of film doesn’t demand it—but the lead up to the kills depended a tad too much on suffering for my taste, though I wouldn’t relegate the film to the torture-horror heap.
But, as great as those kills might be, the protagonists never really get a chance. The deck seemed so heavily stacked against them, unfairly so. Even when they rally to take the fight to the horde closing in on them, some deus ex machina favoring the monsters comes to life, spoiling their escape/defense/attack. These characters, so well-drawn, especially for a Slasher film, deserved at least a chance at escaping destruction at the hands of a bunch of half-witted freaks. I wanted to root for these guys, but there was really no point.
During the First Slasher Film Cycle, filmmakers purposely kept their protagonists one-dimensional, ensuring that the audience wouldn’t like them too much so that they wouldn’t feel sad or even cheated when the characters inevitably died. Chandon here gives us characters that are well-developed and then kills them off unceremoniously. I know that that’s the point with this kind of movie, but I found myself wishing I was watching these same characters in a different kind of movie, one in which the point wasn’t just to see them splattered in chunks across the screen but to see them make their way out of danger after a string of close calls.
Anyway, I knew what I was getting into when I chose my seat in the theatre. But be that as it may, I think Chandon sold himself a little short by limiting himself to gore for gore’s sake. His screenwriting abilities are clearly strong and, with a bit of will-they-or-won’t-they, with a little tension and suspense, he could’ve made a great Slasher film—instead, he settled for a good one.
If you love to watch people go splat—and go splat very well—then don’t miss this one. Otherwise, Inbred is worth a watch but not a must-see. Chandon, however, is worth keeping an eye on—he can, and hopefully will, do much better than Inbred.
Note: After the screening, one of the film’s producers, Yazid Benfeghoul, took questions. Seems North American distribution rights for Inbred have been sold, though the official announcement has not yet been made so he couldn’t say with whom the deal had been struck (if I had to bet, I’d put my money on Anchor Bay).
Length: 98 min