Weirdsville Review

"Off drugs and intro religion...bum deal!" There aren't many moments of truth in Weirdsville but that sounds like one. Weirdsville has a habit of finding a moment of comedy, of a rhythm to its language or of what sounds like wisdom in an otherwise very contrived story about what happens when two drug addicts try to get rid of the body of their dead girlfriend and run into a gang of Satanists. Angels, demons and the de-programming of Moonies all find their way into a black comedy that, when it seems as though it has little else to offer, features a gang of knights racing to the rescue in a clapped-out saloon just in time to save Dexter (Scott Speedman) and Royce (Wes Bentley) from an otherwise generous drugs deal that is going so very wrong.

Drugs provide the visual and storytelling language of Weirdsville. There are brief and random asides but Weirdsville is concerned with little else but the habits of drug-taking. Be it the skewed cinematography, the glittering of snowflakes in the sky or the sight of Dexter skating down an icy street in his bare feet, there's a lazily psychedelic feel to Weirdsville throughout. The music, being mostly laidback country rock, emphasises this as do the scenes of cold turkey, the copious bags of weed and the gnome on Dexter's pipe winking at him in the middle of a hit. Rarely for a film that often veers towards glamourising drugs and the habits that form around addiction, it even seems to be somewhat enamoured with the actual taking of drugs, presenting two detailed scenes of drugs being prepared before being injected or smoked.

The obvious comparison to make is with Trainspotting but Weirdsville also has its eyes on Race With The Devil and, more specifically, After Hours. However, it sifts out the horror and drama in each in favour of the comedy. No matter its Satanists chasing Mattie (Taryn Manning), Weirdsville has them out of shape and calling on the dark lord to aid them with, "Satan! More cardio!" while even the psychotic drugs-dealer finds himself smiling as the ending turns things the way of Dexter and Royce. It may not express the same sense of urban horror as After Hours but it is certainly as deliberately chaotic, with knights in chainmail, the Satanists, a millionaire with a crippling head wound or the 3'5" security guard with a liking for medieval weaponry, Weirdsville often takes the view that if enough odd ideas are thrown into the script then some, if perhaps not all, will work.

None of this, least of all the coincidences necessary to keep the film moving, would work if Weirdsville wasn't funny but it is. However, it does require the viewer to have some liking for drug jokes, be it the stoner talk behind the product pitches for Sprayonnaise - the sprayable mayonnaise! - and Ciga-Tea or the final standoff against the satanists that is decided on who knows more about metal bands of the seventies. This viewer isn't adverse to films that are knowing in their use of narcotics and I was prepared to forgive Weirdsville much for simply being funny and that included a story that visibly strains to bring itself to a conclusion. But while the laughs keep coming, one can, with the aid of three engaging leads, look past the problems with the film and simply enjoy the moment-to-moment comedy of which there is plenty.



Transfer

Anamorphically presented in 2.35:1, Weirdsville is at its best in its more surreal moments, finding a clarity to its images of glittering lights that it lacks in its take on such ordinary locations as shopping malls and nightclubs. The visual tone of the film is in keeping with its icy Canadian setting and so the film features blues and blacks as its predominant colours. With there being a noticeable amount of grain in the picture, Weirdsville looks fine but, for the most part, there's a slight softness to the picture that is present in spite of the psychedelics. However, it does always look stylish and the DVD does a very reasonable job of presenting the film as it should.

There is a choice of either DD5.1 or DTS5.1 soundtracks and while the former is fine with some use of the rear channels, the latter is very much the better. The most obvious difference is that the DTS track sounds a lot warmer, with less sharpness in the top range and a more rounded sound, particularly so with the songs that litter the soundtrack. Clarity is also improved with the DTS track and of the two it is the preferred option. Finally, there are English subtitles.



Extras

Commentary: Director Allan Moyle, writer Willem Wennekers and producer Nicholas Tabarrok are together for this track, which is often much quieter and more matter-of-fact than what we might have hoped for given the comedy in the film. Much of the commentary is simply given over to a shot-by-shot description of the action, of the meandering line walked by the story and of the qualities of the actors. However, it's not a particularly exciting listen and the temptation to skip back to the menu was not inconsiderable.

The Unmaking Of A Title (26m12s): Due to legal reasons, the title of the film was meant to have been changed prior to the start of principal photography. "Did my mother write these?" is director Allan Moyle's understandable question when presented with a list of suggested titles. So his assistants take to the cinemas to ask people's opinions as to what they think of Weirdsville and alternatives. Stash quickly rises to the top and then it's back to the malls, to the cinema chains and to the conference rooms to decide on, after all that, Weirdsville. This feature documents that search for a name for their film.

Call Backs (4m24s): This features actor Greg Bryk in rehearsal before the crew prior to his being cast and, with a surprising amount of candidness, presents the behind-the-scenes debate whether to offer him the part of Abel or the lower-billed Seamus.

William Wennekers: Writing Weirdsville (11m18s): Wennekers takes the opportunity of this interview to describe the background to the writing of his film. Some of his recollections of his time in Hollywood are quite sweet, such as his meeting actor Ed Gale on the set of one of the Child's Play sequels and deciding to cast a short actor in the role of security guard Martin

A Brief Tour Of Weirdsville (15m33s): This feature, as close to a typical making-of as presented here, is probably the least interesting of the extras so far. Although it includes behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the cast and crew

Go With Satan! (4m33s): That's not something that we hear quite enough of from public figures but this allows the Satanists their moment, even to Greg explaining how it is that an actor avoids actually calling up hellfire by accident when simply playing the part of a worshipper of the dark lord. Although I can't imagine that Satan would actually pay very much attention to, "Hello Satan, my name is Greg Bryk and I am an actor! Ave Satana!" should he decide to appear.

The Bong Show (4m40s): It's a hard job but someone had to go looking for just the right selection of bongs for Weirdsville and this short feature catches up with those that did.

Interviews: Although there are interviews with the cast spread throughout the bonus features on this disc, this offers them in full including those with Scott Speedman and Wes Bentley (5m04s), Taryn Manning (4m15s) and Matt Frewer (3m24s).

Finally, there are trailers for A Very British Gangster and Air Guitar Nation.

Film
7 out of 10
Video
7 out of 10
Audio
7 out of 10
Extras
7 out of 10
Overall

7

out of 10

Last updated: 19/04/2018 00:09:43

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