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Anchor Bay Entertainment presents
"How could you not like Lord of the Rings?"
DVD ReviewDirector Peter Jackson is single-handedly responsible for putting the New Zealand film industry on the international map. His early low-budget horror films like Bad Taste and Dead Alive defined cult film in the 1980s and early '90s, and he hasn't let up since, delivering arguably the most successful (both critically and financially) film trilogy of all time in the Lord of the Rings movies. A scant few filmmakers from New Zealand have tried their hand at breaking through to international horror audiences, but none has even come close to Jackson's success.
We might have a candidate now that writer/director Greg Page's debut project, The Locals, is available on DVD in the States. Page can't even come close to matching the joy of watching Jackson's later films, but he shows the same promise that everyone was raving about in regards to Bad Taste. A fantastic cast, and nice twisty story is always a plus as well, and The Locals definitely has all of those things going for it.
The premise isn't much different from your average clichéd horror film plot from the last 30 or so years. A pair of young guys, Grant (John Barker) and Paul (Dwayne Cameron), are on their way to a weekend surfing trip when they come across a pair of lovely ladies, Kelly (Kate Elliott) and Lisa (Aidee Walker). The girls tell them that they're on their way to a big party and invite the guys to join them. So, while Grant and Paul are following the girls, they are side-swiped by another vehicle and their car is run off the road and stuck in a ditch. The pair stumble across a mysterious house and are eventually separated from each other.
It's at this point that horror fans will start to realize that things aren't exactly going to unfold the way they expect them to. It's also at this point that I must stop talking about the plot, because this is one of those films with a big twist that changes the entire course of the film. Such twists either make or break the films they are in, and fortunately The Locals survives unscathed. This twist actually takes the project to the next level, but in a welcome change from similar films, doesn't take repeat viewings to figure out exactly what happened.
Gore is kept at a minimal level, but there is enough carnage to keep fans of blood and guts happy. The Locals is buoyed by excellent performances by completely unknown actors, who make the most out of a story that is very goofy at times, but ultra-serious when the overall picture is coming into place. Barker and Cameron are great as the main characters, making both of their predicaments as believable and realistic as possible. Overacting is almost always a hurdle for an actor in a horror film, but these two clear it with ease. Elliott and Walker aren't exactly beauties by Hollywood standards, but they're perfect for Greg Page's story.
It's going to be really interesting to see what Page has up his sleeve next. I'm not even sure if there's any future projects brewing for him at the moment, but a good reception for The Locals will certainly help his cause. I'm hoping he dabbles in the horror genre for at least a picture or two, because he's shown that he has a lot to offer a genre that's had its share of peaks and valleys, and seems to be on its way down the hill these days.
Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A-
Image Transfer Review: The Locals shows up in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation that was surprisingly good given the low-budget nature of the film. Images look very sharp and detailed, and there's above-average handling of shadow and contrast levels. There's barely any dirt, grain, or other print flaws, which is always a relief.
Image Transfer Grade: B+
Audio Transfer Review: There's the option to hear the movie in either Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0, with the former being the track of choice. Active surrounds are a definite plus, with the rear speakers bursting with sound during the more intense, horrific sequences. The dialogue is crisp and easy to understand, and is never drowned out by anything else in the overall mix.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Writer/Director Greg Page
Packaging: Keep Case
Extras Review: There are a total of three extras. The first is an audio commentary with writer/director Greg Page. This track is great, thanks to Page's unbridled love for his film, even though he was obviously wet behind the ears during its filming.
Next up is Behind-the-Scenes, a nearly six-minute look on the set of The Locals. The raw nature of this footage is its charm, as it's a great look at exactly what takes place on the set of a film.
The film's trailer is also available.
Extras Grade: C-
Final CommentsDiscovering a great film completely out of the blue is always a real treat, and that's what happened with The Locals. Anchor Bay brings this mostly unknown film from New Zealand to US shores, giving a new group of horror fans the chance to discover this nice little film and it's promising creator, Greg Page. Anchor Bay also delivers in the audio and video department, and there are a few nice extras to flesh out the production of the film.
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