Albino Farm (2009)
Reviewed by Gareth Jones
Starring Tammin Sursok, Chris Jericho, Richard Christy, Duane Whitaker
Directed by Joe Anderson and Sean McEwen
If film titles were subject to false advertising law, I’d be contacting the courts right now. It’s like making a movie called Mechanical Ninja and having the plot centre on a struggle for the emotional redemption of a recently divorced, alcoholic ex-children’s entertainer. Who doesn’t become a ninja.
To get it out of the way – there are, unfortunately, no killer albinos here and the “farm” appears to consist of some woods, a shed, and a small cave system. While the title offers the hope of some freaky, pale-skinned delights what we have here is a generic “backwoods inbred cannibal freaks kill teenagers” effort. In brief (and because you seriously don’t need any further description for a plot like this, do you?), four students head off to the hick town of Shiloh to research local legends, and learn of the town’s big secret – the Albino Farm. After much talking they eventually make it there and, surprise surprise, the residents are nasty mutated cannibals. We even have the crazy old man character who tells them to keep away, while simultaneously planting the seeds of curiosity which will lead them all on a collision course with death.
Don’t be fooled by the Based on a True Story moniker applied to the poster either. The only truth here at all is that there is a real place called the Albino Farm in Missouri – however none of the movie appears to have even been shot on location there. Information on it, should you care at all, can be found here.
The main problem with Albino Farm is, quite simply, how plain it all is. Pretty much every member of the cast does an admirable job with what they’re given (even WWE’s Chris Jericho does well as a repulsive, sleazy hick), which is refreshing given the calibre of talent found in low-budget horror efforts this formulaic is usually lacking to say the least, but you know exactly how the plot is going to move forward if you’ve seen even half a dozen of these types of flick. It also takes the film a horribly long time to get to the goods while offering no meat or interesting action during the wait. Playing “Join the Dots” isn’t fun when you’re taking an hour to draw a plain circle – but that’s almost exactly what Albino Farm does.
Writer/Directors Joe Anderson and Sean McEwen appear to have wanted to make Albino Farm a slow-burner for the most part, attempting to build up the mystery and dread until the violence and horror explodes in the final act. Good in theory – not so much in practice, here. As mentioned, while the first two thirds move slowly, there is nothing really offered to the viewer outside of the standard formula. There’s nothing to hook the audience in, get them interested and invested enough to make it through. Instead, your finger will hover over the fast forward button and that’s never a good thing. During these first two thirds, the filmmakers attempt to keep the horror in place by way of lots of potential jump scares and stingers. I say potential because almost every one of them fails due to sloppy editing, misplaced audio cues, or bad staging. If Anderson and McEwen did indeed attempt to set their film apart from the myriad others in the genre by staying largely away from in-your-face carnage, it may perhaps be upsetting for them that the final act is when Albino Farm actually starts to become entertaining and worthwhile.
Once our protagonists eventually make it onto the grounds of the Albino-less Non-farm the movie shifts up a notch. Pacing steps up and you find yourself actually paying attention. The kills come quickly (as unfortunately there isn’t much of the film left), but are entertaining enough if somewhat unremarkable. Some sadistic potential is explored in a scene which finds two characters sewn together at the arm but it still isn’t enough to break free of the formulaic nature of the film, with the climax’s sets and visual cues being uncomfortably reminiscent of The Hills Have Eyes Part II (remake) and 2007’s Horrorfest failure Tooth & Nail.
In fact, the only noteworthy aspects of Albino Farm are the top notch prosthetic effects from Industrial Monsters & Props, and the deliciously downbeat ending. The deformed killers look fantastic - especially a male missing his lower jaw with a bulbous tongue hanging, and the oft-seen in preview news “Pig Bitch” who looks like a cross between a woman, a pig, and a shark. The ending, featuring the only albino in the film (who struck me as looking very similar to a clear-complexioned Richard Lynch) has an old, almost "Twilight Zone"-esque feeling to it and is nicely staged.
Albino Farm can be summed up in one word: “unremarkable”. An unremarkable script, unremarkable score, unremarkable cinematography, unremarkable (and even occasionally downright poor) editing and direction, and a swimming-through-treacle first two acts all conspire to remove any possibility of a recommendation. Once the violence kicks off it’s relatively entertaining, but I wouldn’t blame you if you can’t make it that far.
1 1/2 out of 5
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