22 January 2015

ALBINO FARM/2009


A definite prerequisite before sitting through the low budget hick-horror film Albino Farm is a liking for inbred, mutant hillbilly killer movies. I personally like these kinds of films. There is nothing new in Albino Farm and the viewer should also have a tolerance for all things derivative as well. In reading some reviews of Albino Farm I just have to wonder how original horror movie fans want a film to be before they can at least say it was a watchable movie. I too can get a little fed up with the ‘car trouble in the boondocks’ formula but it is simply a workable method of putting unwitting victims (usually snobby city dwellers) into some sort of dangerous situation in an unfamiliar and threatening environment. It may be the castle of a vampire or a hotel managed by psychos or a bunch of hillbillies who have nothing better to do than chop up college kids but the victims need to be put in harms way as soon as possible and then need to start dying off in gruesome fashion quickly with some attempt at character development along the way so you can feel a little bad (or happy) when they get a pick-axe through the eye socket. It is what the film makers do with the formula, not the formula itself, that can become a problem for the viewer. Albino Farm explores no new ground and the familiar territory it does venture into leaves nothing for old horror movie fans like myself to get too excited about but I can give the movie a moderate recommendation. It is in no way as bad as many of the reviews make it out to be. It could have gotten three skulls instead of two and a half had it not been for the fact that most of the action occurs outside the Albino Farm, much of it in a poorly lit cavern with that crappy, shaky camera work I hate. When is that ‘arty trend’ going to end? If the last part of the film had happened in the actual Albino Farm and been the violence been much gorier this would have been a pretty fair horror film.
I do not go into a movie like this expecting miracles but I do at least expect the film to try and live up to its title. Other than a roadside revival albino preacher there are no albinos in the film. The title really evoked some image in my mind that the film never got close to. And if you’re interested the film is based on an actual urban legend of sorts. The real Albino Farm was a turn of the century house and grounds called Springlawn Farms near Springfield Missouri and was an institution for deformed and mentally retarded people. I don’t know if those are the politically correct terms but if you’re reading blogs like this and watching movies like Albino Farm in the first place why get hung up on little social improprieties like that? The residents of Springlawn Farms were fairly isolated and cut off form the communities around them and as one might expect some local tall tales and legends sprang up regarding the people there and what might have been going on beyond the walls. Seems there was possibly a cantankerous albino gardener or caretaker on the premises or maybe even a family of albinos that resided there, perhaps against their wills. The only real source of all these legends seems to be local folklore and school children's campfire stories.
In the film we have four college students traveling the back roads of rural America for some sort of school project on urban legends. The characters are all standard horror movie clichés. The good girl. The bad girl. The jerk. The nerd. Eventually they run into car trouble in the form of a blown tire and wind up at a desolate service station where the jerk Brian (Nick Richey) insults the hillbilly attendant to such a degree that we cannot wait until he gets the comeuppance we know smart ass city slickers like himself will get eventually. They get some information on the local legend called the Albino Farm but not directions. They are warned to stay away but why would they listen to any sound advice like that. They are soon in the small town of Shiloh insulting the locals to no end. They seem to have no luck getting anybody to want to talk about the Albino Farm but eventually Brian and bad girl Stacey (Tammin Sursok) figure out a nifty way to get some local redneck freaks, led by Levi (wrestler Chris Jericho), to give them a lift to the Albino Farm: Brian has Stacey flash her ample hooters at the inbred goof balls in exchange for a ride. Brilliant!  While all of this is going on nerdy nice-guy and ethnic Indian Sanjay (Sunkrish Bala) and good girl Melody (Alicia Lagano) visit a local church and find out how amiss things in this little town really are when they get a look at a mutant baby. They freak out and discover Brian and Stacey are gone get help from a mute boy in getting directions to the Albino Farm. There Brian and Stacey have been left stranded by the surprisingly rude local thugs. Don’t these hicks know how to treat asinine city kids who have been insulting you to your face from the word go? Which brings us to an important point; the deal with most all of these backwoods killer films, including as a good example the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise, is that in the end you just do not like the spoiled, arrogant city kids that much anyway (except for the virgin heroine) and when they start dying off one by one there is a feeling of relief. I mean, haven’t you ever felt yourself silently rooting for Leatherface? Well, I know I have.

The story finally shifts to the kids at the Albino where they begin to fall prey to the deformed inhabitants who prowl the grounds there, the victims of perhaps genetic experimentation or simply generations of inbreeding. Who knows. It is never explained. In what is considered to be the high point of the film Brian is held captive in some sort of shed and becomes the amorous target of them grotesque ‘Pig-Bitch’ (played by the super sexy looking in real life Bianca Barnett). Luckily for us he spurns her advances and is done in the way any city-boy should be who rejects any Dixie gal with the nickname Pig-Bitch. The others are hunted down by the Farm residents but the action does not occur inside the institution itself, which could have been a boost, but rather quickly shifts to a cave. This was the biggest let down for me in what might have been a great horror film story. We never see any albinos to speak of and we never even see the farm itself in order to get some sense about what has happened to these creatures. Maybe there will be a sequel and if there is I will check it out. The ending is left open as good girl melody staggers shaken and disoriented into the roadside revival tent and perhaps mutant salvation. We do not know for sure.
The direction by Joe Anderson and Sean McEwen is fairly tight overall but the script could have used a little more work. I would guess budget constraints dictated how the film finally looked and a cave with shaky camera work probably cost less than indoor shots of a decrepit old laboratory with a mounted camera and cameraman who was trained in how to do his job. Okay. I am a bit harsh there but overall I thought this could have been a great psycho-hick film if a little more effort had gone into it but I still say it is worth at least one viewing for fans of hillbilly horror. 





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