please pretend that you are reading this yesterday. which is when it should have gone up. but didn’t. because it always takes longer to check citations and put together bibliographies than i think it will. because life sucks like that.
anyway, so for today i thought i’d do a super-fast review of population 436, this little horror film that netflix popped up on my insty queue the other day. it looked okay, so i watched it. and it was okay. staggeringly okay. about the most middle-of-the-road okay you will ever find.
first off, it’s misfiled. ‘horror,’ ‘thriller’ — it’s really none of these things. the sarah jane adventures episode “day of the clown” is scarier than this — admittedly, it’s it in 45 minutes, but it’s still scarier.
436 is a moderately entertaining sort-of suspense movie. the basic plot is that there’s a small town — in virginia or west virginia, i believe — that has a population of 436. always. continually. forever. and so the census bureau notices this and tosses out a desk jockey to check on it. he gets there, ends up with two blown tires just inside the town limits, and is then trapped within the town as he realises the classic “something is wrong with this town…” it isn’t a very exciting something; nor is it something that anyone faintly familiar either with shirley jackson’s short story “the lottery” or with how horror movies of this sort work in general will fail to guess within the first five minutes. on the whole, the “reveal” is less a reveal than an “oh, thank god, the movie finally caught up with the rest of us.”
this said, there is something charming about the movie. the protagonist, played by jeremy sisto, is a likeable young man who does his best with the information he’s given and tries to do the right thing as he sees it. there’s a great young girl — played by i don’t know who — who really should have gotten more screentime. the photography is sometimes beautiful; wherever they actually filmed this is 100% gorgeous country. and, sometimes, the cinematography manages to transcend the story material and create some tension where, honestly, there isn’t a lot to work from.
there’s next to no blood — unless nose-bleeds disturb you — and nothing very graphic. there’s a riff in some episode of mst3k, i forget which one, where crow describes the movie they’re watching as “the movie which constantly reassures you, ‘you don’t need to concern yourself with this.'” there’s kind of a similar effect here.