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The Locals (2003)

DVD Cover (Anchor Bay)
Director:
Greg Page Greg Page
Starring:
Johnny Barker Johnny Barker
Dwayne Cameron Dwayne Cameron
Kate Elliott Kate Elliott
Aidee Walker Aidee Walker
Paul Glover Paul Glover

5.5 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres: Horror, Supernatural Thriller, Thriller
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Review by Chad
Added: August 16, 2005
If you thought that New Zealand was only good at turning out hellacious abominations of movies featuring hobbits and gnomes, then boy, you need to get a copy of The Locals. Pronto. The storyline starts out with Grant (John Barker) laying in his bed, moping over the fact that his girlfriend left him due to the fact that he didn't like a certain trilogy of movies. After all, everyone in New Zealand is supposed to be madly in love with these movies, right? Anywho, Grant's friend Paul (Dwayne Cameron) pays him a visit and, in an attempt to take Grant's mind off of his relationship issues, proposes that the two go surfing for the weekend. After some hesitation and hefty persuasion, the two are en route to the West Coast for a weekend of fun. Along the way, they see a bus-load of Japanese tourist ladies, and plenty of cat-calling and waving is done by these two horny men... so much, in fact, that they miss their turn without even realizing it. After a bit of driving, they find themselves out in the middle of nowhere, where they happen upon another car which features two ladies - Kelly (Kate Elliott) and Lisa (Aidee Walker). The two ladies are dressed in eighties clothing, and they mention that they're on their way to an eighties-themed party... and ask if the two gentlemen would like to tag along. Being the men that they are, they agree; the plan from here is for the two to follow the ladies in their car until they reach the party. Well, things don't quite work out that way... a car comes barreling down the street, causing Paul to drive the car off of the road and into a ditch. The ladies continue on their way, unaware of the situation that the boys now find themselves in. Grant decides that the best plan of action would be to find a local farmer who can help tow the car out, and so they set off towards what these people call civilization... and there, they meet "The Locals".

Now, this is where the movie truly begins. A lot of things happen from here on out in the film, but revealing any of them would spoil the movie and ruin the experience for the first-time watcher. The best way to put it would be this - the revelations are far from what one would expect from a plot like this and they work out so much better than one would expect. If you're expecting some mindless slasher or a huge body count, you'll be in for a big surprise once the movie gets rolling. The movie relies more on character development and atmosphere than cheap scares and gore, and this really makes the movie truly get under your skin. I haven't been this jumpy throughout a movie in ages, and anything that can do that is excellent in my book.

I did find that the major twist was a bit reminiscent of another popular horror film. Revealing which movie that is would do a good job of spoiling this one, so I'll avoid doing such... however, it was a wildly popular horror film released in the last five years which nearly everyone on the planet has either seen or has had the finish revealed to them. Yes, the major twist in this movie will almost certainly remind you of this other movie... but, it's done so much better here. You will not see it coming until the director decides that it is time for you to know about it; it's hinted at throughout the entire movie, but it's just concealed that damned good. Whereas this "other" movie took the twist, revealed it to the audience, showed a few flashbacks, and then went to credits, this movie takes the twist and runs with it. We see how it affects the characters, we see how they react and respond to this new-found situation, and every moment of this is incredibly intriguing. I was completely engrossed in this film once things picked up, and for me, that only happens with the best of the best.

This movie has it all - atmosphere, tension, great scares, and a wonderful storyline. There's a few faults to be found (some bad lighting here and there, an out-of-place soundtrack, etc.), but none of these issues hurt the movie in the long run. If you don't need a huge body-count or tons of gore to enjoy a good horror film, pick this up by any means necessary. It's that damned good. 9/10.
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