There is one thing I love about working for Movie Muser and that is reviewing films that I have never heard of before! So with a film called Community I would think it’s either about some run down housing estate with a tale of redemption within their society, or something with old people and hippies.
So I put the disk in and was greeted by a still of a lower class suburb, some blood stains, typically ghoulish horror groaning sounds and what looks like zombies: one looking a bit like John Goodman.
The film is based on the myths of the run down Draymen Estate, with tales of inbred locals, horrific violence and missing persons. Student filmmakers Isabelle (Dallender) and Will (Jordan) who should have been called Tim as he looks more like a Tim set out to document the estate and its inhabitants, starting with an interview with resident Mr Lowman, which leads them on a search to find out if he’s still alive and what happened to him.
It starts reasonably well as they explore a pretty much abandoned estate full of litter (“There’s always a shoe, being one of the film’s best lines), unsavoury feral street kids showing the students slain animals whilst explaining they are stage one killings and the kids are working their way to stage four predictably killing humans. The kids explain that all the adults aren’t around as they’re high on weed. But as you’d expect in a film like this, there is something more sinister afoot.
Now for the positive: I liked how uses faux interviews of people describing the rundown estate, which could possibly be haunted. I works well as there are always tales of a supposed haunted house or certain areas in every town where you hear cautionary tales about the people and are told to generally avoid. This also tunes into a modern zeitgeist that the true horrors of the effects of poverty no education, drugs and violence are in your own town, but we all turn a blind eye to it.
Early on the film goes out of its way to blur the lines of reality, exploring the area while shooting down every generic convention on the socially unjust’, Hollywood movies and horror in general. But this just comes across as rebellious self-establishment and egotistical big headedness.
I would say that the worst thing about this film is Isabelle, who is instantly unlikeable and pretentious as a stereotypical film graduate. I should know as I was surrounded by them. The character is unfocused and I don’t know if she’s a budding journalist who wants to expose the world for her own selfish interests, or if she’s just bored of her seemingly upper class life and wishes to rebel against her upbringing whilst further ruining the lives of those she documents: prime example being that she uncaringly states that a child they just filmed getting a blowback from their mother will be instantly taken away by social services. In fact she gloats at this idea.
She does have an incredibly weak ulterior motive for her actions SPOILER ALERT (her sick mother needed weed so she dated a drug dealer for 5 years, got in debt and is now on a mission to find the super addictive weed grown on the estate) END OF SPOILERS, but this blackmail plot is a throwaway device that, like most things in this film, isn’t explored to its potential and only makes me hate the character more. She is a selfish, two-dimensional character who is un-relatable and badly acted ever for a horror film! A quick IMDB search shows that Dallender started her acting career in Hollyoaks, which is more horrifying in itself! As the film progresses she is captured and held hostage, but doesn’t get any sympathy from the audience as it was her own fault she got into this mess.
However, Will is likeable, quirky and well-acted for what is essentially the sidekick who you know will die a horrible death later on. The audience empathises with him and his torment at the hands of the estates residence. There are a few supporting roles that are short and sweet: the residence ruler Auntie is an interesting character who I would of liked to have seen more of and Dumpy (Bird) is an effectively creepy henchman, (he can be seen in that Vinnie Jones British Heart Foundation advert).
I found many interesting ideas in this film, which sadly weren’t utilised to their full potential. This is indeed a fresh spin on the zombie mythology, where we have unsavoury looking folk communicating in groans, hunting in packs and eating human flesh. I liked the idea that the soil is polluted, that bones help things grow and that all the produce they eat and smoke only furthers their madness and murder. The film states that the weed is so addictive that people can’t leave and the estate draws people/victims in. It also hints that weed could be a supernatural metaphor for the evils of society, sedating people into an uncaring state. There should be some underlying humour that cannabis turns you into a brain-dead zombie but this isn’t explored.
The film takes itself very seriously with its bleak tone, but to be honest it would have worked a lot better as a horror comedy jokes about getting the munchies just write themselves! However director Ford tries to reach for the urban realism perfected by Ken Loach and Shane Meadows, but falls flat as no real issues get addressed when the film strays between this social realism and generic horror. It doesn’t want to answer whether this is just another estate beyond hope and repair it just leaves us with another film crew entering this world and honestly I couldn’t care less about what happens to them.
So we have an inbred redneck community who hunts any outsiders that stray into their territory and the protagonists trying to seek out the truth whilst surviving. You’re better off watching Deliverance (1972) of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) for inbred horror, or Dead Man’s Shoes (2004) for a better taste of social urban horror.
Now I had zero expectations of this film and usually that’s the best way for me to review a movie. Sadly though I was frankly unimpressed and as such won’t be recommending it to anyone. Still, it’s better than Die Hard 5.
I know this film is a low budget independent British horror film so I shouldn’t judge it too harshly, but it’s just another film where I stopped caring halfway through. It’s predictable, un-thrilling and just not scary!
The only extra is the film’s spolierific trailer which adds more suspense then the finished product. Watch this instead of the film.
Overall Verdict: This is a film with a few good ideas dragged out and underdeveloped and it’s a shame that most of the film is driven by an unlikable protagonist who you can’t invest in. As such this film becomes boring, uninspired and is an un-scary waste.
Reviewer: George Elcombe