Directed by Alex Chandon
The League of Gentlemen meets Small Town Folk by way of Bad Taste in Alex Chandon’s distinctly British horror-comedy Inbred. Four young offenders and their pair of idealistic social workers arrive to spend a weekend in the rural Yorkshire village of Mortlake aiming to engage in a community rehabilitation and team-building exercise. Briefly checking into their decrepit cottage accommodation, they clean the place up a little before heading down the pub (“The Dirty Hole”) to take in the local ambience. There they meet the village publican and Patriarch of sorts, Jim (O’Neill), who offers them a distinctly off-kilter small town welcome and introduction to the stereotypically backward, animal-bothering folk of Mortlake.
When an encounter with some rather more aggressive locals sees youth worker Jeff (Doherty) accidentally pierce his femoral artery, the seemingly good intentions of Jim and his merry band of folk take a swift turn for the gore-soaked murderous, leaving the remaining teens and worker Kate (Hartley) trapped in a fight for their lives.
The title itself should prove enough of a clue that director Chandon isn’t aiming for anything serious with Inbred, but the massive mean streak to be found here may catch some off guard. Gallows humour abounds, as do jokes regarding cross-dressing, sex with animals, mental and physical disability and disfigurement and many, many more subjects that will quite easily offend the more sensitive viewer. None of it is obviously meant to be taken in any way seriously, but those on British shores who feel themselves consistently at the butt of these types of jokes owing to the very real attitudes of the English cultural North/South divide (remember – it’s grim up North, apparently!) may just find it one joke too many.
Inbred’s biggest problem is its choice of protagonists. The young offenders presented here are almost uniformly hateful little bastards that you just can’t wait to see offed at the nearest opportunity. Though played to perfection by Doherty and Hartley, social workers Jeff and Kate are no better – smug, naive types that receive next to no chance to redeem themselves by taking off the kid gloves before they’re brutally removed from the picture. So, with the storyline essentially pitting one group of unlikeable idiots against another group of unlikeable idiots (even if Seamus O’Neill does effectively steal the show as the gleefully homicidal black-face wearing Jim), Inbred boils down to its most basic element: A gory body count flick.
On that side of things, it delivers. Big time. Once the killing starts, you’re never too far away from the next twisted death scene as the citizens of Mortlake get together for their favourite type of Cabaret show, complete with protective goggles and designated splash zone, featuring the murder of outsiders as their favourite main attraction. Inbred is gory as hell, and once the remaining teens start fighting back it becomes a literal bloodbath of severed limbs, blown off heads, crushed bodies and all kinds of splashy goodness. Presented with a fitting mix of CG and prosthetic work, the gore effects are well realised if goofy and obvious at times.
The mean streak of this film really ought to be stressed again. The whole affair is presented in extremely poor taste (decide for yourself whether that’s something you’ll appreciate) but its treatment of its characters is nigh-on sadistic. On multiple occasions, help, escape and triumph seems almost in reach, only to be snatched away with the swing of a cleaver, the blast of a shotgun, or the interruption of a ferret. Yes, you read that correctly: a ferret. The presence of one of these creatures should be enough to tell you where Chandon’s coming from in his representation of the people of Mortlake. Hell, it’s quite surprising that a whippet was nowhere to be seen.
Do not go into Inbred looking for a genuinely horrific, or even particularly thrilling or tense, piece of work – you won’t find that here. What you will find, though, is an amusing (if you’re an appreciator of dark/broad humour), deliciously gory, occasionally shocking and decidedly vicious little film. Sure, in a nutshell it’s pretty derivative backwoods stuff and the lack of anybody to truly root for is a serious flaw, but it manages to generate enough of its own energy and strangely unique attitude to be worthwhile. It most certainly will not please everyone, but for an undemanding body count flick Inbred is a decent waste of 90 minutes.
3 out of 5