Saturday, April 16, 2016

Horror Film Review

Attack of the Herbals (2011):  Scotland is a groovy country.  The highlands, William Wallace, haggis, Craig Ferguson...  Unfortunately, this grooviness does not extend to horror comedies.  The movie poster says "Hot Fuzz meets Shaun of the Dead."  As far as lies go, this one ranks up there with the Greeks saying, "Hey, let's be friends.  And here's a giant wooden horse to show how much we care."  The only similarity between this film and those two is that they were all made in the U.K.  As for the tag line, "Putting the 'tea' back in terror," that just makes no fucking sense at all.  Perhaps by now you've puzzled out that I'm not exactly a fan.  I shall explain why.

 It starts with Nazi doctors experimenting on a number of unwilling participants by force feeding them some kind of tea.  As the Allies close in, the remaining tea is packed into a huge crate and heaved off the end of a pier.  Flash forward to the present to big city failure Jackson (Calum Booth) grudgingly returning to his home village of Lobster Cove where no one except his grandparents and former mate Russell (Steve Worsley) are pleased to see him.  Needing quick cash to prevent greedy asshole Bennett (Liam Matheson) from taking over his grandparents' shop, Jackson and Russell decide to sell packets of herbal tea they found in a wooden crate that's washed ashore.  It's a splendid plan that works beautifully.  Except, that is, until the villagers begin to act a tiny bit strange.  By tiny, I mean a hell of a lot and by strange I mean psychotic and homicidal.  They discover too late the "tea" was the Nazis' failed attempt to create a super-soldier.  Oops.  So the town is a bloodbath with some creative and occasionally humorous killings.  The end, of course, involves a showdown between Jackson and Bennett.  By this time, I'd stopped caring and hoped they'd all die.

A great many problems this film has.  First of all, this "tea" looks like dog food or maybe twigs.  It's not leaves or a powder or anything I've ever seen before.  But Jackson and Russell automatically assume it should be brewed and drunk?  Sure.  Why not.  Another annoyance are the actions of Jackson's old Lobster Cove employer Danny (Lee Hutcheon) who didn't drink the tea and therefore is not batshit crazy.  Instead of simply waiting for the homicidal villagers to kill each other off (which they do with gusto), Danny wades into the melee with guns blazing.  It's pointless and silly.  Another irk is the suspiciously convenient presence of the local vicar, a silver-haired German named Adolf (Alan Fraser).  No, he's not meant to be Hitler.  He's just there to present the Nazi backstory and tell Jackson and Russell how stupid they are.  An unnecessary contrivance that falls flat.

One bright spot that actually made me laugh out loud involved the disabled town drunk in his wheelchair being chased by a psycho on one of those mobility scooters.  I can't explain why it's funny, though.  Probably better that way.

The Skinny

Acting:  Herein lies my biggest beef.  Worsley is the best of the lot as Russell but even he's not what you'd call stellar.  Surprisingly, the worst actor was cast in the leading role (Booth).  He must have owed the director money or something.
Story:  I admit the idea is unique.  The problem came when attempting to translate the idea into a workable script.
Direction:  Too much time is spent on Jackson's homecoming woes.  When the action finally gets cranking, it's oddly lethargic.
Production Values:  Shot for a little over twenty grand on the weekends with the actors all working for free.  Filming in Scottish villages lends it authenticity.  The sound and lighting don't suck.
Gore/FX:  The blood and gore, what there is of it, is cartoonish.  CGI fire and blood splatters may have been created on an Apple IIe.
Scares:  About as scary as a kitten sleeping on a pillow full of dandelions.
Ending:  Got on a boat and rowed away.
Verdict:  Should you see Attack of the Herbals?  Should the Trojans have pulled that giant wooden horse into their camp?  I'll say it again:  not like Hot Fuzz or Shaun of the Dead.  Hell, it's not even a zombie flick.  More like The Crazies...but bad.  If given a choice between watching this and eating haggis, go for the sheep's stomach.

Rating:  1 out of 5

No comments:

Post a Comment