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Film Review: Community (2012)

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 young aspiring film student Isabelle sets off to interview several residents of an impoverished housing complex. One incident goes awry after another as she quickly realizes the inhabitants are addicted to a special kind of marijuana with sinister side effects. Will Isabelle be able to escape the relentless clutches of the depraved or will she become one with Community?


Directed By: Jason Ford
Starring: Jemma Dallender, Elliott Jordan, Paul McNeilly, Terry Bird

There is something most definitely dark and off key about this UK export. At first glance the premise may seem a little campy or beyond absurd. Director Jason Ford does a smash up job at making the production seem painfully realistic. From the beginning credits we’re curious about the activity that takes place on the wrong side of the tracks.

Actress Jemma Dallender was well cast in the role of Isabelle. She exudes not the façade of a clueless damsel in distress we’re over saturated with in both classic and contemporary horror. Instead she is a bright, strong willed, independent woman who’s made some mistakes and is paying the ultimate price. Testosterone fuelled fans will certainly attest that it doesn’t hurt how esthetically agreeable she is before the lens.

Gritty, grimy and filthy set design provides an effective segue into the lives of the abandoned and impoverished. We get an undeniable glimpse into lost hope, despair and shattered dreams. Several children play walk in parts that contribute to an overall foreboding and creepy atmosphere. The director then cuts to a number of interviews with everyday folk and their opinions on the housing complex. Each testimony lays the ground work for legend about Community.

Panning back to the present we follow the journey of Isabelle (Jemma Dallendar) and Will (Elliott Jordan) as they’re lead into a bizarre sequence of events labelled in phases. The children have an appetite for killing small creatures with no remorse. Sociopathic behaviour can only be justified as ‘it is good for the soil’. Without indulging in any plot spoilers, the audience is suddenly privy to a cultivation that seems to be the focal point of everyone’s macabre behaviour.

With grunge like musical score to heighten emotional effect and an onslaught of blood curdling screams along with sound effects to make you cringe in terror, Community turns up the intensity a notch and refuses to relent.

Paul McNeilly who plays Auntie, a cross dressing nurse truly steals the show as his portrayal of the citizens’ leader creates an overall vibe of instability and dementia. We actually feel the utter sense of hopelessness within Isabelle the captive in skin crawling grandiose. Some clever cinematography techniques are utilized from first person point of view to fully accentuate Isabelle’s sense of bona fide vulnerability. Just as we sense she is doomed to face her ultimate demise the plot shifts at the pinnacle of conflict escalation. We’re rejuvenated into a fresh sense of optimism that she’ll foreclose on the horrific housing indefinitely.

Perhaps most noteworthy is the director’s restraint in use of extravagant blood and gore. Granted we are witness to an independent, low budget feature. Yet it is refreshing to see a director capitalize on the audience’s sense of imagination. Not a whole lot of graphic violence is illustrated. The true terror comes in the form of what we subconsciously piece together rather than bludgeoned repeatedly over the head with it.

At times it felt as though the plot lagged a little slower arriving at its intended destination. The overall duration could’ve likely been pruned down ten to fifteen minutes. Yet the payoff was the same, a realistic journey into terror that could just as easily occur in your neighbourhood or mine. Overall an impressive production, especially from first time film maker Jason Ford.

Community was co-produced by Terry Bird, who plays a most convincing Dumpy within the film. I would definitely be enthusiastic to check out more from this up and coming UK production house New Town Films. Their present pre-production project is titled Dead Weight.

-Four out of five tombstones

Community (2012)

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