Sunday, December 11, 2011

Flesh, TX (2009)

Keep your family close and your enemies closer...to your stomach

This is an ultra low budget straight to video horror--camera humming, rushed lighting setups, low dialogue, computer made soundtrack, low key actors: you name it--that revolves around an amoral household in a small Texas town.

They're an oversexualized, overindulgent family of four women and two men: one of them happens to be Sheriff and some of them both daughters and partners. Each visitor that comes across the dwelling meets their end with a hint of barbeque sauce and the tip of a fork. When people aren't coming to them, one of the seductive daughters named Sugar lures 'em in--the bigger the better. Though this time Sugar gets ahold of a bratty little girl who wanted to initially run away from her mother on their way to California. The demented family prepares to cook a little Sunday night treat and go back to their ways with the others in the town all the while remaining hush-hush. Though the mother persists since she doesn't believe her daughter would have gone on a bus and just left like that. The situation acts as a catalyst to break up the family and cause some to question what they've been doing all along.

The tone has moments of being tongue-in-cheek by poking fun at backwoods folks and movies that have exploited the subject, while trying to exploit it further themselves. Sometimes it's meant to be sadistic fun, at others it comes off as far too cartoonish, such as one character wearing an obvious wig or another with a blatant blacked out tooth. This comes in and out of trying to pull your leg and also attempting to be serious, though not always finding a comfortable balance in between. The concept--if you can call it that--feels incredibly short sighted and stretched thin with little to say. Why they're eating people is never made to be a point, so the shock value of it all underwhelms.

A Sheriff that has full control of the town for his own gain has been better outlined and made more believable in even the most throwaway made for TV movie. It makes "Roadhouse" seem plausible because at least you get a better perspective of the town and how it all works. I mean, they're actual tax payers with a corporate brand gas station and an established Sheriff's headquarters, not some place that fell off the map with shoddy construction and outdated cars. They seem fully aware and unsheltered, so what gives? The story is extremely simplistic to the point of feeling like there isn't an actual story as a result of the pacing having its highs and lows and long periods of insignificant activity. If we're to be mindlessly entertained at least pull out enough situations to keep one busy and to forget all shortcomings. Easy fun and formulas are fine, so long as they're steady.

There were a few small glimmers that made it seem like the filmmakers might be on top of things and "had" it, but otherwise this feels like a practicing grounds for those involved. One particular scene went all out with some true weirdness when one of the daughters named Fancy sniffs her hands from greeting a new comer and begins to erotically touch herself as the mother smiles on and the guest looks uncomfortable enough to run on foot to the next state over. The exceptional scenes come too far few and in between, such as two girls cannibalizing a body, only to then drop a piece of flesh from one mouth to the other's.

The accents are there one moment, gone the next; it makes it a challenge to take it seriously when they're actually trying to do so. With little to work with the performances don't always get a chance to stand out enough to be remembered later. Dale Denton, playing the Sheriff, had some inspiration during some scenes either by living on the wild side at home or in charge when in uniform to get everything in order so he can continue with the former. He had conviction in either one but lacked the little touches to bring them together to make sense. Joe Estevez has a small part as the rambling town drunk who wants to come clean but is otherwise only used as a recognizable name. One thing that's appreciated is at least they gave the character of the mother with the missing daughter some strength instead of just getting pushed around like a punching bag or a helpless victim that only screams and trips over her own two feet.

Rating: 2.5/10

From Black to Red recommends instead: "Delicatessen": This French made dark comedy centers on an apartment building in an apocalyptic universe where food is scarce.

Director: Guy Crawford (Starved, Dark Places, Withered One)
Stars: Kathleen Benner, Dale Denton, Joe Estevez, Davina Joy
Link: IMDB

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