Chloe Van Harding
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Patrol Men (2010)
2nd Jun 11
A teenage girl learns that not everything is how it seems on Peyton Island.
Low budget horrors are a mixed bag. Sometimes working within a tight budget can push the inventiveness of those behind the camera to come up with something bristling with ideas that marks them out as a name, or in this case names, to watch. Check out the likes of Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste or Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead both low budget and both manned with directors that had enough dazzle to put their names on the map!
Co-directed by Ben Simpson and David Campion, both of whom co-wrote this with Niall Maher, Patrol Men is an uneven mess. By the director’s own admission they were looking to make the ‘best Z-grade horror film ever made.’ They have certainly made a Z-grade horror. It’s truly horrible for all the wrong reasons.
The acting is generally awful. No one is expecting award-winning performances from a flick budgeted at around ten thousand quid but surely two guys dabbling in making films could have at least attracted someone to this project that CAN exhibit some thespian flair, aside from the lead.
Then there’s the unnecessary padding out of the film’s running time with songs that redefine the depths mediocrity can steep to. Perhaps the songs on the score are meant as a wink to the classic The Wicker Man whose plot Patrol Men cribs/alludes to or perhaps the directors just ran out of ideas and thought it would be ‘funny’ to put them.
Why ‘funny’? Why indeed! Simpson and Campion look to be having a laugh at the audience’s expense. They readily admit on the disc’s extra feature that most of their output is crap and snigger throughout starting with a ‘comic’ slurp of a drink before talking to the camera as if they were addressing easily impressionable friends down their local.
Sitting there and watching the interview where one of them seems to think saying fuck a lot is like ‘really effective/cutting edge’ is a painful experience and one is inclined to want to turn off. However for the sake of this review it was sat through with one thought running through the mind like wording in a stick of rock and that was ‘grow up’!
On Peyton Island the locals live in fear of a serial killer and are protected/controlled by a gang of militants known only as the Patrol Men. The Patrol Men wear gas masks (a nod to Romero’s The Crazies) and ensure that no one is on the streets after the curfew is in full swing. Young Alex (Chloe Van Harding – who appears to be the only one in the film that can act) has befriended new boy Okie (Anthony Abuah) whom no one else on the island really takes to. Considered a rebel by many, including Alex’s widowed father, the boy disappears leading to Alex to start to question what is really afoot on Peyton Island.
Quite why a whole community would live in fear of a serial killer to the point of allowing an enforced curfew and mind-washing from the clearly bonkers leader is one issue amongst many that just has you scratching your head. Given this strict code of no one being allowed out after dark and the suchlike would the island REALLY allow newcomers like Alex’s friend Okie into the mix? Maybe something was missed during filming but where are the boy’s parents?
Would a teenager really have moved there himself? Perhaps he was staying with relatives but given the tight laws restricting things around the island how did he manage to move onto the island and as he could move onto the island why doesn’t anyone else consider moving off given the level of fear they are forced to live under?
As a local boy it’s nice to see the likes of Lulworth Cove on film but that’s as far as the interest goes. The red stuff is hugely unconvincing looking more like jam and the lack of general direction and sub standard acting means that it fails to engage or interest. The structure feels random and the odd bit of swearing is just there for apparent ‘shock’ effect.
You know you’re in for a rum time when the first shot is of a semi-naked woman in bed and a camera shot peeking over you know what. You can almost hear the giggles behind the camera as Ben and Dave try to control themselves over seeing her nipple and you just know too that they would have considered this 'provocative'. It’s not, here it’s just childish and proves that they have a lot of growing up to do before they make a film that’s worth watching on any level at all.
As mentioned before the makers had no intention of making a good film intending this to be the ‘best Z-grade horror film ever made’. Not only have they succeeded they have done so to your viewing’s displeasure. Patrol Men has terrific packaging just don’t be suckered in by it!
8th Jun 04 The film opens with a very similar voiceover narration to the original (see Trivia) but with different footage as we tour the furnace room, all fingernail scratches and blood-clotted hair, of the Hewitt residence.