I simply love this new wave of British horror. After the Hammer/Amicus years it seemed horror from the island was dead and buried, but since Neil Marshall entered the scene with his debut Dog Soldiers in 2002 and Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead succeeded at the box office in 2004, there’s hope again. Step by step, an army of queen-loving directors have developed a very distinctive style of filmmaking, and a bunch of unusual genre offerings have been made.
Some of them (Severance , Dead Meat ) use almost Monty Python-like humor; others (Triangle , Doomsday ) use high concepts, and a third kind is almost unbearably violent (Eden Lake ), but all of them have a very British feeling. It’s not just the accents of the tea-drinking actors or the nice visuals of the island’s landscapes; there’s just something very British going on here that is hard to pinpoint. Oh yeah, and before someone throws the first rock: I’m aware of “new Hammer,” but those movies are diving into the nostalgia river a bit too much for my taste.
One has to admit that, compared to the German way of genre filmmaking (see my review of Stung), the new British horror is a recognizable style. Sorry for this detour, but I simply had to get this of my chest.
Back to Community (which has absolutely nothing to do with Dan Harmon’s brilliant TV show). From the first scene I was really was scared, because the movie starts with some interviews in typical found footage style. Sorry, but I simply can’t stand this approach to low-budget filmmaking anymore. I’m happy to report that first-time director/writer Jason Ford uses this style only to introduce the protagonists as film students, and shortly after they reach Drayman Estates the FF moments are seldom used and very effective. In the first 45 minutes the movie builds up a really creepy atmosphere. The empty houses and streets, a bunch of creepy animal-killing kids, and some insights into the life of a—nicely put—very dysfunctional family make the viewer really uncomfortable. When the real secrets behind the community finally get uncovered, the movie sadly loses a lot of steam and becomes more conventional horror fodder.
Obviously Ford and his team got the most out of the location they found somewhere near Essex, but they had some problems getting something out of their actors. While our two main protagonists are okay, some of the creeps living in the Estate seem too aware of a camera being around and deliver stiff performances; this will take the viewer out of the movie at times. Another problem is the special effects, which just aren’t special enough. Perhaps it’s just me, but in a movie that includes inbred, drug-abusing cannibals, I expect something more than a plastic-looking severed head and mostly off-screen violence.
In the end, we get a movie that in parts is as atmospheric and is comparable to Eden Lake, but sadly Community never reaches the same level of quality. Community is surely worth your time, but be prepared for some flaws. For a first-time director/writer, it’s surely a well-made movie, and I’m really curious what he will come up with next.
IMDB rating 4.2/10
My rating 5.5/10 (one extra star from me because it’s a debut film)