Alex Chandon, UK microbudget superman and director of low budget horror Cradle of Fear, presents a tale based on the traditional “twats get killed in the countryside” scenario.
Inbred takes place in a town called Mortlake (get it? Mort?) that mysteriously DOES NOT FEATURE ON ANY GPS (filmic shorthand for “turn around, and go home”) and features a pub called The Dirty Hole. It’s supposed to be a horror comedy in the same vein as Shaun of the Dead or The Cottage, and is definitely more polished than Chandon’s other work, if not quite as entertaining.
A group of young offenders and their care workers venture into the Yorkshire Dales for a community service weekend. Jeff (James Doherty), the stuffier of the two carers, makes sure to collect everyone’s phones at the beginning of the film, for flimsy reasons. This is known as foreshadowing – nobody having a phone becomes important later on, when Bad Things Happen. Kate (Jo Hartley) takes them all to the pub, an act that is irresponsible, baffling, and legally dubious (potentially underage offenders drinking with public money?). This does allow the town of Mortlake to get valuable exposure to the newbies, which ensures that Bad Things Happen.
The best thing about the film is its playful style and location design. The film feels workshopped – there’s a lot of chemistry between the cast and their characters are worked out pretty solidly. This film would be better at showing the group having a crap time in the Dales, rather than another tedious bloodbath. It would be better as a road movie than a horror film, and while there is palpable tension throughout from subtle audio cues and the post-apocalyptic look of much of the countryside – the creepy sequence in a train graveyard is dripping with atmosphere, and is probably the only scene in which the jump comes from a ferret – the way that the characters act to propel the story forward is completely stupid.
Jeff, Kate and the group have no problem with brutality and violence in a way that is completely unrealistic whilst they often act in ways that are totally inconsistent – for example, Kate attacks someone with a shovel without batting an eyelid, and Jeff’s injury early on causes him either no discomfort or extreme pain, depending on what the story needs.
Star of the show is the always brilliant Mat Fraser as Jacob, who uses his disability in a way that subverts the idea of the traditional villain. Other great things include the horrific variety show involving a blackface host and an incredibly disturbing scene involving a horse, walking around. Emily Booth‘s cameo at the beginning is a boon for anyone with an interest in UK horror as she is something of an icon of the scene. Dominic Brunt, who plays Paddy in Emmerdale, also has a cameo as Podge, an evil chainsaw-wielding henchman, further sealing this film as a cross between Deliverence and Emmerdale.
The film isn’t supposed to be realistic, but its horror-Heartbeat mentality seems to suggest that literally everybody who lives in the countryside is a psychopathic murderer. Not even Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Deliverence, both of which this film takes a lot of cues from, seemed to say that. It’s a load of great characters trapped in a predictable but well-made horror film that seems more focused on gore that being interesting. It’s a strange beast, and in that way is much like the people of Yorkshire.