MTI // 2009 // 84 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Daryl Loomis // September 23rd, 2009
Some stones is best left unturned.
Four college students travel into the Deep South to do research on some kind of non-descript class project. When they stop in the seemingly empty to town of Shiloh, things take a turn for the weird. Everybody in town appears to have a severe birth defect and they hear about the local legend of the Albino Farm, a place everybody knows but nobody wants to talk about. When the kids convince some townsfolk to take them out there, they discover the horrible secret of the town and must fight for their lives against those who want the secret to remain hidden.
In this current climate of horror remakes and slasher retreads, a film like Albino Farm, for all of its problems, is a breath of fresh air. That's not to say the film is unique, but you don't see a lot of inbred horror these days. Albino Farm owes much more to Ted Mikels's The Corpse Grinders and the original The Hills Have Eyes than it does to Halloween, and that in itself sets this film apart from most of the independent genre entries to have come out in recent years.
The story treads a familiar path: traveling teens enter a place they don't belong and are punished for it. It's a mediocre formula, but it's all in the execution. Albino Farm for its budget, fares pretty well, making for a far more enjoyable experience than many of its ilk. When we first find our victims, they're tour average irritating college kids, typically annoying and clear fodder for death. There are only four of them, however, which guarantees a low body count. This may disappoint gore hounds, but I prefer it and it allows director Scott McEwen to build tension between murders instead of the gallery of death we often see. It does mean we have to spend more time with the individual characters, which is unfortunate, but it vastly improves the film. Moreover, McEwen builds this tension by using the creepy little town as a character and subtly showing us the defects of the townspeople. Though many seem perfectly normal at first, we soon get a flash, and only a flash, of what's wrong with them; he neither dwells on it nor bothers to explain. This may be the best part of the film. A total lack of explanation forces us to connect the dots ourselves, if they need connecting at all. We have this "Albino Farm" that we barely see, some hints of cannibalism, and the aforementioned birth defects, but it's all treated vaguely, making the film seem much creepier than it otherwise would.
The performances aren't bad, on level with other horror films of this budget level. The lead characters are pretty irritating, but the actors to a fine job staying believably human. For pro wrestling fans, Chris Jericho has a small role as one of the freaky townspeople. He's a little different than the fans normally see him; he doesn't look a thing like the Lionheart that I know and love, but he does a good job with the small amount of material he's given. He isn't the muscle-bound freak that Vince McMahon generally prefers, so he isn't relegated to strongman roles. His makeup looks good, he's a charismatic presence, and he looks like he had a blast working on the film.
MTI sent a check disc for review, so it's hard to say how this will measure up to the official release, but I certainly hope it's better. The image transfer is very dark, very hard to decipher at times. Skin tones are terrible; changing from relatively normal to deep red from scene to scene and there's plenty of transfer errors. The stereo sound was much better, but not dynamic in any way. No extras have been included.
Albino Farm certainly isn't perfect, but for a film of its level, it's more than adequate. For fans of independent horror, this entry is a change of pace in the genre and is certainly worth a rental.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 84 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated R