Small Town Folk (2007)

Welcome to Grockleton... Death awaits you.
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Small Town Folk - Welcome to Grockleton... Death awaits you.

Small Town Folk is an odd mixture of styles which shouldn't work and, well... it doesn't really. The ambience is befitting of a made for TV mini-series for all the family, probably shown around supper time in the build up towards Christmas and probably featuring wizards, goblins, annoying know-it-all tweenies and wardrobes or something. This nauseating atmosphere of jollity is offset by some quite harsh and gory killings while attempting a dread filled situation. This clash of styles is not executed in a manner that enables them to compliment each other, it is an intriguing combination of styles to attempt and, maybe in the hands of more experienced directors, one of those oddities that gets labelled cult could have emerged. Unfortunately the styles seem to cancel each other out and the result is nothing memorable. This is a shame because it is an ambitious endeavour and it is apparent that a lot of enthusiasm, effort and passion went into this.

In its defense this is a small budget, independent movie and, with that in mind, certain aspects are impressive. The movie was initially going to be a short film but evolved into a full length feature over the four years that it took to create. It may have worked better as a short. A large amount of the film is recorded with the magical power of chroma keying (blue screen?... green screen?... ), the colours are slightly off giving the experience a dreamlike quality. It seems a bit overused when combined with the non-composted images, it may have been better to create the whole film using this technique so that the dreamlike reality was more consistent and therefore a more encompassing experience.

The story is nothing original except it exploits the local misfits of a non-tradition culture, namely the British. It is another survive and escape caper along the lines of Wrong Turn, Albino Farm and the plethora of others of the same ilk. While the characters are refreshing and successfully deliver an exaggerated sense of British folks from small towns, the story brings nothing new nor does it mimic the more engaging movies of this subgenre very well. The characters are more of a gimmick and this alone is not enough to maintain interest for the entire length of the film. It is just a showcase for some intriguing misfits with a simplistic plot.

The intent of Small Town Folk is a comedy horror. The comedy aspect is achieved but doesn't sink to that level of darkness expected in a horror. The characters are more befitting of the aforementioned imaginary TV show and would probably be more suited to a bastardised televisual version of something Terry Pratchett penned. For this reason the horror has no impact and this could be the reason that this film has alienated some of its potential audience. It's not child friendly and it's not troubling enough for horror fans. There are some quite violent death scenes with ample blood and grue but there is no sense of dread or impending doom, the danger the protagonists could potentially face is very apparent but there is no reason to care.

The actors work well to achieve the wacky and peculiar characters as they were intended but there is always the feeling that these characters shouldn't be behaving this way in this situation. There is no right or wrong for this situation as it is quite off-the-wall but there is something missing that can't quite be put upon with a finger. The character "The Landlord" (Chris R. Wright) brings some menace to the screen but this is diluted by the absurdity of the characters surrounding him. The headline actor is Warwick Davis but his contribution is small and his appearance is quite short... [pause]

The ending tries to typify a slasher and it does. That last little struggle after a period of thinking all is well. The problem in typifying is that something typical is the result and with a movie that doesn't really provide anything new, this is a very underwhelming finale. Small Town Folk is a valiant effort to make something original. Conceptually and stylistically it mostly achieves this but the themes fail to bond and therefore this film will appeal to a very narrow audience. The story brings nothing new to support the twist on the well-trodden concept and the overall aftermath only stands out as being amazingly mediocre.

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