Dir: Nolan Bell + Bryan Roberts
Star: Edward X. Young, Bethany Taylor, Kachina Dechert, Colleen Cohan
One of things I love about indie horror films is their unwillingness to play by the rules. This is a bizarre mishmash containing elements from urban vigilante pic, drug deal gone wrong films and cannibalism movies, with a large dose of gratitude due to M.R. James’s classic story The Monkey’s Paw. All that’s missing are some musical numbers. Even so, it’s exactly the kind of insane nonsense from which any Hollywood studio would run screaming. Which, of course, makes it perfect for indie film-makers from Massachusetts, who don’t know the meaning of fear. Or common sense. Probably a bit of both, really. Gerald (Young) and Molly (Cohan) run a convenience store, but are fed up of the local trash: they’re always finding dead babies and hookers in their dumpster. They start using the raw materials provided for a line of fast-food, chocolates and beauty products – which attract a certain section of local teens, that in turn can be “re-cycled”. With the local police not apparently over-concerned, it’s up to the local kids, led by Leah (Taylor), to find out why their friends are obsessed with confectionery, and vanishing.
The obvious touchstone is Motel Hell, with its goofy combination of horror and straight-faced black humour, and it’s most effective when hitting the mark. Young and Cohan are thoroughly convincing in their roles, and almost all their scenes are highly entertaining, while Taylor is not your conventional horror heroine, shall we say. Kudos to the makers for that, though one wonders why she’s getting to hang out with the popular girls, and there’s an odd shift in focus away from her in the final reel, that doesn’t work. The gore effects are a mixed bag; while there is some quite effective digital work, some of the physical effects – particularly the pointy object ones – are weak, and stay on screen so long, their deficiencies become glaringly obvious. Hey, for a $6,000 budget, what do you want? Enough targets are hit for this to be an entertaining effort, and the next time I go into a convenience store, I know I’ll certainly be a little more nervous. Especially about trying the burgers.