Ah, the English countryside: tea shops, clotted cream, old peculiar, the wind blowing through the wheat and blood spilling in the streets. At least that's how it comes across in Alex Chandon's Inbred; a thoroughly enjoyable slice of gore-clotted fun. When two social workers take their ward of young offenders for a weekend in the remote village of Mortlock, they find themselves caught up in the machinations of pub landlord/part-time black and white minstrel, Jim, played with bawdy delight by Seamus O'Neill.
There's an anarchic quality to Inbred that reminds us a lot of Peter Jackson's Bad Taste. Like the New Zealand gorefest, Inbred's budget is limited, but used wisely to ensure there's a heavy mixture of gore and laughter. Also, like Jackson, Chandon is one sick puppy. Realising deaths by horse, landmines and ferrets, he doesn't just challenge the barriers of good taste, he throws them to the ground, urinates on them and sends pictures to their relatives.
His army of Mortlock locals are a mish mash of Eden Lake's murderous teens and the insular inhabitants of Innsmouth. There is nothing subtle about this gang, and once Jim sets up one of his torture shows for the benefit of others, any subtlety that's left throws itself out of the window. Their casual nature to the violence they put their victims through during these 'shows' is made more unnerving by the showbiz attitude that comes with it. Donning mask and makeup, Jim and his cohorts prance around the stage, playing up to the crowd like a fetid Bruce Forsyth, whilst unleashing the most horrific acts upon the weakest of flesh. It's a dichotomy that runs throughout the film - the diseased and the delightful.
During a key scene towards the end, Jim places a bet with his bumpkins on when one of their sacrificial lambs will finally bite the dust. There's a temptation to compare this to the killers in Michael Heneke's Funny Games; calling the audience to task for wanting to see such brutality. Whether this is intentional on Chandon's part is hard to say. Maybe we're just overanalyzing a film where someone dies being force-fed slurry.
You will either hate this film or love it, but you will not come out of the screening calling it simply all right. Inbred is a film of grotesques, with humour as a black as a diseased lung and we loved it.