Directed by Alex Chandon
Written by Alex Chandon and Paul Shrimpton
If you’re acquainted with Karl Pilkington, the most idiosyncratic and avant-garde thinker of the 21st century, then you’ll know that Northerners are “a bit weird, innit?” In the United Kingdom, Northerners are the equivalent to American Southerners (or, if you’re Canadian, anyone outside Toronto), and are often at the brunt of aren’t-they-poor, aren’t-they-backwards, aren’t-they-stupid, and, yes, even aren’t-they-inbred jokes. A country’s regional divide can serve as fodder for socio-economic and cultural insight, or gory and insular hillbilly horror; Inbred dabbles in the former, but ultimately ends up being the latter. If Deliverance and The Hills Have Eyes came together and got to know Kes in the biblical sense, Inbred would be their unholy offspring; a film that combines grindhouse and slaughterhouse.
The story follows four juvenile delinquents from inner cities and their two adult supervisors; apparently, they’re on some kind of community service or rehabilitation program that leads them to Yorkshire. Once there, the local barman, Jim (Seamus O’Neill), greets them with welcome, but others, including a trio of degenerates, don’t take kindly to these strangers. After a freak accident, in which one of them is severely injured, a bloodlust suddenly sweeps over the villagers, causing an ever-escalating series of gore, gore and more gore.
In the beginning, when the Southern characters are being introduced, there seems to be a subtle commentary about the social systems of contemporary Britain, with each character serving a function in this regard. For example, the social workers (Jo Hartley and James Doherty) are well meaning but ineffectual proxies of the state, Tim (James Burrows) is a disenfranchised arsonist who’s fed up with the educational system and its imbalanced attention paid to ne’er-do-wells, like Dwight and Zeb (Chris Waller and Terry Haywood), and Sam (Nadine Rose Mulkerrin), the lone, taciturn girl, is there for unspecified reasons and is probably undeserving of such company. There’s probably an interesting subtext here, and British audiences should be able to appreciate it more than others.
However, all hints of the sort are promptly snuffed out as things start to go belly up. When the thrills and kills finally kick in, regional stereotypes are back in full form (i.e. zoophilia). The Northerners are demented, backwards and deranged, and the film doesn’t seem to try and condemn them. Inbred will, at times, put the viewer directly into the perspective of the rabid Northerners, especially in the vaudeville-like abattoir scenes (which are well-shot and darkly atmospheric), turning us into another member in their crazy collection of onlookers. This is done with some level of tongue-in-cheek, so the occasionally hammed-up acting and moral indifference can be overlooked as par for the course, to some extent. Ultimately, those looking for all-out gore devoid politics will likely enjoy the last half of the film and not the first, while others may feel the opposite.
– Justin Li
The 7th annual Toronto After Dark Film Festival runs from October 18-26. For a complete schedule and ticket information, please visit the offical website.