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Weirdsville
cast: Scott Speedman, Wes Bentley, Taryn Manning

director: Allan Moyle

87 minutes (15) 2007
widescreen ratio 16:9
Contender DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Michael Bunning
Weirdsville was a bit of a roller coaster for me, and that's before I'd even seen it. I hadn't heard of it before it arrived on my doorstep, so I had no idea what to expect. My initial thought was 'Weirdsville, eh? Sounds interesting, hopefully it is weird, and not some low-budget by-the-numbers horror film'. Then, as I was watching it and noticed Alan Moyle's name as the director, my interest rose sharply. Moyle directed the excellent Empire Records and the dated-but-entertaining Pump Up The Volume, so seeing his credit, as director, was a definite plus point. Then Scott Speedman's name appeared ('Oh dear, that guy from Underworld who can't act') and my interest went down, only to rise again when Wes Bentley's ('ah, that guy from American Beauty who can act') followed it.

But then the opening shot showed Speedman getting high, and my interest dropped so sharply that it fell through the floor. 'Damn,' I thought. 'A stoner movie.' Stoner movies are just as bad as low-budget by-the-numbers horror films: they've been done before too many times and by and large they're dreadful. As I watched, though, I realised I was wrong. It wasn't a stoner movie at all, and it wasn't a horror movie either. It was a madcap buddy-movie road-trip comedy, with small, knowingly absurd stoner and horror elements. And it was really quite good.

Dexter (Speedman) and Royce (Bentley) are two heroin addicts who panic when their friend Matilda (Taryn Manning) overdoses. They decide to bury her body in a closed drive-in movie theatre. Halfway through their ill-thought-out plan they discover a bunch of hilariously preppy Satanists performing a dark ritual and then... well, I don't want to spoil it. Suffice to say that things get out of hand, and then go from bad to worse to utterly bizarre, maintaining a high level of laughs along the way.

The direction's as able as ever, and the acting's surprisingly good. Bentley is completely different from his turn in American Beauty, but just as good, Taryn Manning is perfectly adequate (though not given very much to work with), and Scott Speedman surprised me by being fantastic in the role of Dexter: he gives the character a lot of depth, rounding out what could otherwise have been a two-dimensional character. It's not all good though: some of the jokes fall a little flat, the pacing falters at around the halfway mark (but picks up again shortly afterwards) and the ending is a little too neatly-resolved, but all-in-all it's well worth watching.

The extras on the disc are a mixed bag, though. There's an interesting documentary about how the crew tried to solve a potential problem with the name, some funny footage from the casting sessions, and a featurette about the process of writing the film. But then there's also a preposterous short film about how the crew 'protected' themselves from the dark energies that might occur when filming the satanic ritual which is either serious (but utterly ridiculous and pathetic) or meant to be comedic (but not funny in the slightest) and some horribly anaemic sound-bite 'interviews' from the cast in which they heap praise on each other and the crew and in which they sound conventionally 'Hollywood' and aren't worth watching.

Essentially, this is a disc worth getting hold of, but stay away from the extras and just watch the film. More than once... It's worth it.
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