After a criminal gang botch a heist they find themselves drawn into a terrifying government conspiracy to cull the population.
I tell you what, I have always been interested in conspiracy theories. Now, that doesn’t mean I believe all of them (the car driver is the one who shot Kennedy, really?), but they still fascinate me. What I’ve unfortunately come to realize is that, more often than not, they don’t translate well to the big screen, or at least to the horror screen. For every Close Encounters of the Third Kind, you also have to deal with an Independence Day, or worse (here’s where I’ll once again reference that clunker, The Sins of Government, that I recently reviewed). So to read the synopsis of Terror Nation, and see that it is a combination bungled crime/government conspiracy movie – well, I’m not going to lie, I had a good deal of skepticism going in, but I was open to giving it a chance.
Terror Nation is s British film written by John Shand and directed by Shane Mather, a duo that had previously worked together three years before on Fantacide (a movie in which director Mather bragged about adding a brutal rape scene for the sole purpose of upsetting feminists). To date, these are the duos only two films. It kind of feels like this is intended to be a kind of Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels-style crime-gone-wrong story mixed in with some over the top gore and an underlying plotline of governmental conspiracy. Unfortunately, not much of this works, and instead we get a shaky, confused plot line about some criminals with some over the top gore (hey, at least they got that right) and a very weak hint of a conspiracy that only really appears near the end, and then seems kind of pointless.
Some guys steal a briefcase containing some unknown files, then try to meet their contact and collect their money. Unfortunately, their contact gets found out, and they are sent to a small town where experiments are apparently going on amongst the citizens. Lots of people get shot, and their blood violently splashes everywhere, and we get a final stand-off at the end where even more blood is sprayed all over the place. That’s pretty much it here, not much to write home about. Outside of the effects, which aren’t perfect by any means, but are certainly abundant, Terror Nation is a fairly dull, uneventful, forgettable movie. But there’s so much blood!
I always try to find the high points, the well done parts, from any movie, especially the independents, but this one makes it tough. The dialogue is in that Rob Zombie’s Halloween, swear so much it becomes no longer effective by the end, vein. The characters are thinly written, to the point where, aside from one of the criminals, all of the others were interchangeable with each other – and the other one was the same loose cannon type from nearly every crime flick (see Michael Madsen as Mr. Blonde in Reservoir Dogs for an example of this character done right). There are lots of filler scenes that did not advance the plot one bit, whether it be another random person shot and killed by the criminals for no reason, or an overly-long scene when a guy stumbles upon two guys and a woman having a threesome in the woods and he watches the entire thing and then we never see them again.
I think the big problem with this movie is that it seems to have no direction. We have these guys stealing a briefcase at the beginning, and that is fine, we don’t need to know the why behind it just yet. But as the plot movies forward, we don’t get the information we probably should have to make us care about these files, or this conspiracy, or really any of it at all. Next thing you know, we have an older fellow directing a bunch of government agents in Romero’s The Crazies-looking bodysuits to attack people, a crazy girl named Kathy seducing one of the criminals before having a traumatic flashback and getting violent, and a couple “medical experiment” scenes that don’t seem to have meant anything when all is said and done. Once we realize the plot is so shaky, we also have to realize that all the blood and boobs are nothing more than gratuitous, something you’ll rarely hear me complain about, and the fact that we get a couple quick references to MK Ultra and chem-trails means nothing to us by the time the end credits roll.
I have little good to say about Terror Nation. There’s a ton of blood, and lots of deaths, and the woman who plays Kathy, Claire-Louise Catterall, is very pretty, and there’s even a nasty necrophilia scene near the end, and that shoot-out that I mentioned earlier, but none of these are good enough reasons to give an hour and a half to Mather’s misguided film. You’d be better off reading a book about conspiracies, or even re-watching Will Smith fighting aliens (either Independence Day or Men in Black will work just fine), then wasting a night with this one.