Locals, The (DVD)

We’ve all been there. Lost. Lots of horror films start off with a couple of people on a road trip who end up taking that dreaded wrong turn, usually straight to hell. Well, our weary travelers do just that in The Locals, but where they end up going is a place much darker than I had originally imagined upon putting in this DVD.

We’re introduced to the film by checking out some amazing aerial footage of the New Zealand countryside. The camera sweeps about, showing much of the beauty that we’ve grown used to having watched Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy. There’s something wrong though. The beauty is indeed there, but something is a bit off. Menacing. This tone is created early on and carries on nicely throughout the film. Enter our protagonists Grant and Paul, played with much honesty and familiarity by John Barker and Dwayne Cameron.

Grant’s just been dumped by his girlfriend for *ahem* not liking a certain trilogy of movies and is lying in bed depressed when his best friend Paul comes along to give him the kick in the ass that he needs to get his life jump started. Together they head out to spend a weekend surfing. That’s where their journey begins, but their destination ends up being miles away from the sunny beaches they were hoping for.

It’s hard to review a film like The Locals because you want to talk about what happens, but you do not want to give anything away. Suffice it to say that a lot does go on, and the twists and turns come at a fever pitch. There were quite a few moments of head scratching and then jaw-dropping reveals. I was kept riveted until the last seconds.

There is a chemistry in this film between cast and crew that tears through the screen. Director Greg Page does a more than meritable job of keeping things moving and quite scary at times. His quick wit and attention to detail only add to the film’s already razor-sharp story. The direction is deliberate without feeling forced, and the relationship between the actors, especially Barker and Cameron, makes the film’s events all the more terrifying and gut wrenching. Also of merit is the film’s complete lack of distracting CGI. I don’t know if it was a budgetary restriction or just the want to go with strictly physical effects, but Page’s use of stop motion really was a sight for these infected by out-of-place cartoonish looking bullshit™ eyes. It’s great to see someone come along and take admittedly all-too-familiar material to frightening new heights.

The DVD package itself is your standard fare: feature, behind the scenes featurette, commentary, and a trailer. However, given the quality of the film itself, even if it had been bare bones I still would have thought it to be worth the cash! As a bonus feature for us paranormal junkies, something was caught on film that was more than a little strange. To see what I mean, watch the end credits of the film with the commentary on. Interesting to say the least.

Anchor Bay Home Entertainment has built its well earned reputation of being the horror fans’ best friend by releasing the old classics we’ve all grown up with in stellar DVD packages. With films like this and the also recently released Lightning Bug, they’re going a step further to ensure they’re the ones putting out the next generation’s classics first. Bravo.

The Locals (2003)
(Anchor Bay Home Entertainment)
Directed by Greg Page
Starring John Barker, Dwayne Cameron, Peter McCauley, Kate Elliott, and Aidee Walker

Special Features
Director Commentary
Behind the Scenes Featurette

4 out of 5

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Steve Barton

You're such an inspiration for the ways that I will never, ever choose to be.