/Warner Home Video .
R4 . COLOR . 84 mins .
M15+ . PAL
Best mates since primary school Paul (John Barker) and Grant (Dwayne Cameron) are inseparable and when Paul’s girlfriend dumps him suddenly Grant knows that a weekend of surfing and drinking is the best way to cheer him up. The boys head off to the coast and while taking a shortcut they encounter two girls, Kate and Lisa who invite them to a party.
I'll have the golf course ready in no time.
Racing through the dirt roads in an effort to keep up with the speeding girls the boys are run off the road by a mystery car and end up on a ditch unable to get out. While searching for a farm house to see if they can get a farmer to tow them out the boys meet The Locals.
What begins as what can only be described as “Deliverence in Middle Earth” where the boys are being chased around the New Zealand countryside by some redneck natives wielding knives and sharp sticks quickly turns into something more sinister and scary.
Some people will hate this movie because there are some moments of suspense and tension but despite being sold as a horror is not terribly scary. However, cheap frights aren’t the selling point of The Locals, the main selling points are the story and performances by the young actors particularly the “boys” (Barker and Cameron) and “girls” (Elliot and Walker) who each do a great job of portraying their respective parts, be it the manic and frightened Paul or calm in a crisis Kate.
Don't laugh at my shirt. It's a George Lucas original.
The film has couple of obvious pay offs that expose exactly what is going on within the haunted farmlands the boys are trapped in but over the length of the feature there are a number of subtle hints that could easily be missed on first viewing, particularly early on with the initial encounter between the main characters.
The Locals is presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and has a beautiful anamorphic transfer.
One of the biggest characteristics of this movie is the unique lighting effects used throughout most of the scenes. As explained by director Greg Page, he wanted to give the scenes the effect of being lit by lines of cars with their headlights on and he pulls it off quite well giving the viewer a chance to experience the scenery and locations without having to peer into the murky blackness.
The colour palette used throughout the movie consists mainly of green, red and deep blacks and each is represented well in the transfer. The black levels are excellent with the contrast between the lighting effects and the blackness of the country night showing nicely.
A bad commercial for the commodore.
The only real problem with the video transfer is that the picture can tend to be a bit on the soft side at times, sharpness is lost particularly in the daylight scenes but luckily the majority of the film is set at night time so this isn’t a major problem.
The audio options on this disc let us choose between Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 audio tracks. While reviewing I listened exclusively to the 5.1 channel track and it is an excellent example of the format. Particularly obvious and effective is the use of the surround channels for ambient noise and music. The sub-woofer also gets a thorough workout during scenes where the predominantly rock and death metal (don’t let this scare you off - no pun intended) based score features prominently.
The extras package on this disc consist mostly of the standard fair like photo galleries and trailers however the Director’s commentary is by far one of the most interesting and entertaining this reviewer has heard in some time and it well worth a listen.
You need a 15 minute powernap mate.
The short “making of” featurette titled Finish the Job (a phrase you will hear quite often during the movie) mainly consists of raw behind the scenes footage featuring key scenes in the movie but is intercut with comments from the director that are also worth seeing for some insight into the story and filming process.
For a movie that represents a feature film directorial (and writing) debut of Greg Page and also the acting debut of most of the main actors, The Locals is an impressive effort and I look forward to seeing some of these young New Zealanders in future productions.