Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Flesh, TX (2009)

Flesh, TX

Written by Kathleen Benner and Guy Crawford
Directed by Guy Crawford

Sugar Barley...Kathleen Benner
Jonas Barley...Dale Denton
Henry...Joe Estevez
Tabitha Parker...Jada Kline
Donna Parker...Eleni C. Krimitsos

Single mother Donna Parker and her emotionally distant daughter Tabitha are on the road, and they make the grave mistake of stopping in Flesh, Texas, a backwater burg so small that it doesn't even appear on the map. Donna looks away for a moment--just one moment--but that's all that it takes. When she looks back, her little Tabitha is gone.

Donna suspects the sultry Sugar Barley, a (frankly delicious) local tramp who was lingering in the vicinity, but she has no proof. The town Sheriff doesn't prove to be much help in finding out one way or the other...but perhaps that's because, unbeknownst to Donna, he is Sugar's father. Donna's suspicions prove to be accurate, because back at the Barley Barnhouse, there's a whole fucked-up familial unit with a taste for the human form. Yum, yum!

Right off the bat, it seems pretty obvious that this is just another low-budget rendition of the all-too-common Redneck Cannibal Clan subgenre of horror: Two missionaries stop at the Barley house and are quickly disposed of; An out-of-town good ol' boy is invited over for dinner and instead becomes dinner. We've seen it all before.

Then, approximately half-way through, something unexpected happens:

It becomes a very different film. And a quite good one at that.

Flesh, TX turns out to not be all about the murder and bloodshed, but instead about family relationships and character interactions. (Hey, I'm as surprised as you are.) Although some of the characters in the film are too bizarre to be realistic--which honestly works against this film, as opposed to a film that thrives on bizarre characterization, such as Spider Baby--the love between the elder and younger Parker girls seems utterly believable, and both come across as very real people.

The surprising highlight of the film is a secondary character, the town drunkard known as Henry, played by Joe Estevez. The scenes that he appears in--with Donna Parker and, later, with Jonas Barley--are dripping with feelings and will kick you in the gut. An emotional resonance of this magnitude is a rarity in this genre, and these scenes, if nothing else, make the film.

This is a low-budget film, though, so the usual drawbacks are also painfully evident at times. Spotty acting, mediocre special effects, and its fair share of sound problems, to name a few. But when you go into these movies, you're kind of expecting that. The question is whether or not you're able to look past them. If you can't, you should probably go back to the multiplex. I think 2012 is playing a matinee.

Granted, parts of this movie are derivative of other films, from Texas Chainsaw Massacre, to Wrong Turn and The Hills Have Eyes...but as far as films go, if you're going to be derivative, that's not such a bad list. If you've still got a little love for homicidal hillbillies, you could do a lot worse than this.

View the trailer below!

Not Rated
85 Minutes
United States

"What the fuck kind of doctor licks a baby's face?"

HorrorBlips: vote it up!

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