Saturday, December 4, 2010

Horror Film Review

The Locals (2003):  Horror flick from New Zealand!  So at the very least there are cool accents.  What was I expecting from this one?  Well, the synopsis just said two friends take a short cut to a party and run into the locals who don't want them to leave.  My first thought was that it'd be like a Wes Craven torture porno (Last House on the Left, The Hills Have Eyes), but then I remembered the film's Kiwi roots and figured I was in for something similar to Peter Jackson's gorefest, Dead Alive.  Wrong and wrong.

Grant (John Barker) and Paul (Dwayne Cameron) are best friends heading to the coast to do some surfing.  Grant hadn't wanted to go because he was totally bummed because his girlfriend just broke it off because he didn't like Lord of the Rings.  Paul talks him into it and off they go.  That great horror movie cliche "the shortcut" comes into use here as they stop at a "Road Closed" barrier beyond which lies a perfectly normal looking bridge.  I should have made that connection but missed it.  Why would there be a "Road Closed" barrier blocking a road that's not closed?  Anyway...

Two girls in a car suddenly come roaring over the bridge from the other side and ask if they want to go to a party.  Well of course they do.  In the middle of nowhere, at night, and total strangers invite you to hang out...yeah, well I'll just say Charles Darwin had a few things to say about this kind of behavior.  So Grant and Paul follow, slide their new Suburu Legacy off the road and get stuck, and then have to walk.  They reach a farm house just in time to see a creepy guy slit a woman's throat and get caught peeping.  Creepy guy has friends and the chase is on.  The best friends split up while fleeing; Paul hooks up with the girls in the car for a series of adventures, and Grant runs into a local in plaid toting a shotgun who mutters to himself a lot.  This local says he needs Grant's help and then forces him to dig up a grave.  A great many other things happen, but I feel those would be spoilers.  And as you know, I don't do spoilers here.  Suffice it to say I didn't see coming what came.


Acting:  Not distracting.  That may not sound like a ringing endorsement, but if the acting in a horror movie isn't so bad that it distracts you, then the actors have done well.  As I always say, low expectations is key with horror films. 
Story:  It's not something we see done very often anymore, which is refreshing.  A new take on an old idea. 
Direction:  A little clumsy in the middle, but director Greg Page gets the important stuff right.  Production Values:  Surprisingly high.  Normally, films like this have a budget less than what Tom Cruise spends on shampoo in a month.  With backing from the New Zealand Film Commission, however, The Locals is nearly as professional-looking as the horror coming out of Hollywood.  Gore:  I'm struggling to remember.  There's some blood and not much else in the way of gross. 
Ending:  It doesn't exactly give you a warm fuzzy; then again, it's not one of those fatalistic ones that so pisses me off.
Verdict:  Should you see it?  I can't think of a reason not to.  The Locals isn't all that scary, but it will get your heart pumping in a few places.  And if you weren't able to stomach Dead Alive, you'll be able to say you've seen a horror flick from New Zealand.

My Rating:  3 out of 5


  1. Hi there
    Well, while I don't get to watch a lot of what you review so can't comment on your comments per se, I have to tell you, your reviews are simply a hoot. Make me want to go out and see half this stuff. (!) Thanks for the fun critiques.

    yep - from that crazy vegas person

  2. Glad you put out these reviews, for a guy who can't seem to make it to the video store, the movies remain in my thoughts for when I do hit the "vid" store. Season Finale of the Walking Dead tonight, love the show, but what kills me is the cliff hangers and when the juicey scenes are about to show, the network heads for another commercial, uhggggg.

  3. Thanks for the comments. Happy to oblige with the movie reviews. I think The Walking Dead has been an impressive effort for the most part. I'll be watching the last episode tonight. AMC has ordered a 13-episode 2nd season because of the incredible ratings, and being a life-long fan of all things zombie, I'm feeling a little smug. Like when the Cubs finally win the World Series again, I can say I was there from the beginning.