For some reason I’ve found myself watching a handful of movies either set or made in England and Ireland lately, entirely by coincidence. While a few of them were actually made entirely in the US of A while being set in Ole Blighty, I thought it an interesting trend that more filmmakers were choosing Britain as a horror locale these days. What, our own inbred rednecks aren’t cutting the mustard anymore? (Or have they all got SAG cards now?)
Here are my quick takes on three Brit-set flicks making the cable and DVD rounds: The scrappy American-made yet Ireland-set indie Plague Town, the goofy but adorable Irish period horror piece I Sell the Dead (made in NY) and the better-than-it-should-be Brit studio supernatural horror flick The Gathering, starring tiny, lollipop-headed tourist Christina Ricci.
Be a love and read on then, aye geezah?
“When Irish eyes are OHMYSWEETFREAKINGCHRIST!!” (from Plague Town)
In this no-budget backwoods gorefest, an American family tracing its roots in Ireland (coughConnecticut!cough) wanders into a village that has been … well, plagued. By deformed, demonic babies, to be exact. The family isn’t exactly the Waltons to begin with, but as things get progressively weirder and darkness falls, they pretty much come apart at the seams. And just in time for the deformed children to start hacking them to bits!
This one’s got some clear shortcomings in the production values department, but the characterizations and script are pretty tight and the designs for some of the kids are pretty creepy. Plus, you can’t fault a low-budget movie for clearly hoarding all its money for a few gore shots, right? A nice spin on the generally rote hillbilly horror routine, thanks mostly to its willingness to throw children at moving cars. (Now on DVD!)
RATING (OUT OF 5):
Larry Fessenden and Dominic Monaghan Sell the Dead
I Sell the Dead
This movie put a smile on my face in a way that few zombies movie have since they reanimated Mae West for Sextette. The criminally squooshable Dominic Monaghan (Lost, Lord of the Rings) spills his graverobbing secrets to a rather bitchy priest (Ron Perlman) on the eve of his beheading, weaving tales of vampires, zombies and lots and lots of Irish mead.
“Get yer hands off me biscuits!!”
I always admire when filmmakers pull off period settings with clearly very little budget, and here the task is greatly aided by writer/director Glenn McQuaid‘s cheeky, comics-inspired visual style. If you liked Cemetery Man or the old Tales from the Darkside series, you’ll love this one. And did I mention how adorable Monaghan is? K, just checking.
Again, while this is set in Ireland it was filmed entirely in New York. (Currently playing theaters in limited release and On Demand via IFC)
RATING (OUT OF 5):
Christina Ricci and the children of in the corn (from The Gathering)
Okay, forreal? This movie should suck. It’s a religious thriller (which miss more than they hit), it has the most blatant lead stuntcasting I’ve ever seen (there is ZERO explanation for the fact that Christina Ricci is the only American in the entire movie) and it was directed by the guy who made Not Without My Daughter and Vice Versa.
But you know what? It’s kinda hot. The cast is peppered with very solid actors (Kerry Fox! Stephen Dillane! Simon Russell Beale! … No idea who he is, but he’s GREAT!) and the Isle of Man location is fabulous. Plus, the whole religious element plays out in a way you might not expect and is oddly satisfying – even inspiring. Sure, most of us don’t check out an Omen knockoff as a means of self-betterment, but in this case the message actually makes sense and it’s perfectly welcome. (Now on DVD!)
RATING (OUT OF 5):
Anyway, just thought I’d comment on these three flicks that use the UK as a prominent feature … even if they weren’t even filmed there. Anyone catch them, or know of any other good below-the-RADAR bangers worth checking out?