Lynch Mob (2009)

Lynch MobReviewed by The Foywonder

Starring Michael H. Cole, Tony Darrow, Paul Borghese, Kristyn Sammons, Dolan Wilson

Directed by Byron Erwin

“The Sopranos” meet 2000 Maniacs… That’s the best way of describing Lynch Mob, a grisly, quirky horror comedy that pits Mafia mamalukes vs. Confederate cannibals.

A “truth extractor” known only as Weasel on the payroll of some New York gangsters, the torturer the mobsters brings in as a last resort when they absolutely need to make a guy squeal, has been pinched by the cops. Weasel is a true sicko. As if his pleasure inflicting pain and penitent for keeping body parts of those he questions as souvenirs wasn’t warped enough, Weasel is also a murdering pedophile to boot. That’s how Weasel got popped, attempting to abduct a girl at the playground. As disgusted as the feds are by this scum of the earth, Weasel is willing to rat on the mob boss (Tony Darrow, best known as Larry Boy Barese on “The Sopranos”) they’ve been after for years. The feds are repulsed by Weasel so much they only agree to keep him in protective custody if they can find someplace to stash him with no children. Such a place is the barely there town of Lynchburg, Georgia. Population: 12.

Whether or not you enjoy Lynch Mob will hinge greatly on your reaction to Michael H. Cole’s strange performance as Weasel. The moment he opens his mouth and out comes a voice mimicking Peter Lorre… Weird to say the least. I was completely taken aback at first by this guy that looks like a seedier Andy Richter talking with a voice more suitable to Igor from an old Frankenstein flick. No explanation for his accent – or for why he’s named Weasel, for that matter. It took a bit but his performance began to grow on me once the film made it be known it was shooting more for black comedy than straightforward horror. You know you’re watching a black comedy when one of the main characters is a creep with a taste for little girls that speaks in a Peter Lorre accent and the film actually makes this total creep into a somewhat likeable comic foil. It’s a bit more palpable knowing this guy will get his just desserts in the end, possibly by becoming someone’s dessert.

There are plenty of good ol’ boys and goodfellas but there really are no good guys in Lynch Mob per se. One wiseguy named Mike is perhaps the only character that could be construed as a good guy and that’s if you’re willing to overlook the fact that he’s an organized crime foot soldier. Mike has a soft spot for damsels in distress and such a damsel is the pregnant wife of the abusive sheriff of Lynchburg, a man best described as a louder, meaner, angrier Roscoe P. Coltrane.

The feds put Weasel up in a house so dilapidated I suspect even Leatherface would have complained about the squalid living conditions. Now you would think a child rapist-murderer being hunted by the mafia is someone the FBI would have armed guards watching over at all times. Instead they merely slap an ankle bracelet on him and that’s the last we ever see or hear of the feds. That’s some mighty fine protective custody they got going there.

If the mob doesn’t get Weasel the locals might. They may not be too friendly to this Yankee interloper but they sure would love to have him over for dinner. If you go into a diner in Lynchburg and see the special of the day listed as “CHUCK ROAST”, “FRANK AND BEANS”, or “ROADKILL STU”, rest assured the main ingredient was named Chuck, Frank, or Stu.

And if you come across a local seductress named Tammy, the one constantly flashing her boobs, she’s a maneater and not just in a sexual way.

This Southern hick town has been cursed since the Civil War; its dozen denizens damned to an eternity trapped within the town limits with an insatiable appetite for human flesh. But times are tough. Ever since the new interstate opened tourists, hitchhikers, and stragglers don’t make their way down the back road anymore that leads to the barely there berg and that has led to a food shortage. Weasel again saves his own skin striking a deal with the starving locals by agreeing to supply them with all the Italian food they can eat.

Screenwriters Rachel and Scott Stamper and director Byron Erwin have cooked up a horror comedy that constantly walks the razor’s edge between being good – quirky humor, brevity, almost a gruesome charm about it – and bad – uneven performances, unnecessary flashbacks and dream sequences, a clunky climax that feels rushed – but does enough right to warrant consideration. Somehow it all comes together like a rusty old pick-up, the paint chipping and the bumper partially hanging off.

Lynch Mob got a one-week theatrical run in Carmike Theaters around the country at the end of September. I went in with no expectations and came out amused just enough to give it a recommendation even if that recommendation comes with some strings attached. Not sure where or when it will turn up next, but if you’re in the mood for an offbeat horror flick, even one that is frequently ungainly, keep an eye out for it.

3 out of 5

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