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Written By Hillary Block
I’m going to flat out say it, I first discovered The Locals probably right when it came out. Dwayne Cameron plays Paul the idiot sidekick to John Barker’s Grant. So obviously I bought it knowing Dwayne was in the movie. What I didn’t know is that this would quickly become a favorite, so much so that I watched it a second time right after my first viewing.
This also isn’t my first time writing a review, but I also haven’t seen it in about 8 years. Just like before it is hard to give a plot summary, not because it’s a bad movie, but there is so much going on and I would hate to spoil it.
Before you write off The Locals, let me emphasis, while there are a few good jumping gags, there isn’t a lot of really scary parts. More like an early season of Supernatural worth of fright. Pretty sure there is more cussing then anything. This is not a Paranormal Activity type of horror movie.
In typical horror movie fashion, though, friends Grant and Paul decide to go on a weekend surfing trip, but with the daylight fading they decide to take a shortcut. Causing their paths to cross with 2 girls. The boys decide to follow them hoping for something more. The Locals does follow the same overdone horror movie pitfalls. Of course there is car trouble, and of course the boys are your typical teens with one thing on their minds.
But there is also a more sophisticated layer, which reveals itself slowly over the course of the film. Nothing is as it seems, making this more of a thriller than horror in my opinion. There is not a whole lot of gore, this is not a Saw more in line with Memento. There is also a campy feel and oddly placed humor reminiscent of Evil Dead. If there is one thing I love it’s a campy horror movie with some well-timed jokes. This one has the bonus of also making you think.
Writer Director Greg Page hasn’t done anything since The Locals, which is a shame. This movie came on my radar because of Dwayne and The Tribe, but that is such a small piece of a larger greatness. The story has a different spin than your normal ghost story and the time-lapse photography is stunning. I also have to give a huge shout out to the perfectly timed Lord Of The Rings joke. Yes that tells you when this was filmed but it holds up, much better than I expected.
The Locals is also a great primer for New Zealand rock music, there is actually two layers of music just like two layers of the story which is neat – one is an eerie instrumental track and the other, rock. I discovered a ton of bands from this movie; I have to mention that when I pulled up Itunes to start writing this The Datsuns started playing on shuffle. Eagle eyed watchers will find a poster hanging in Grant’s room for them. Elemeno P front man Dave Gibson plays Nev, but that is a whole other story. So if you are looking for some different music even just pulling up the soundtrack listing is a gold mind with the likes of the above mentioned and adding The D4 for good measure.
Just about the only issue I have with THE LOCALS is the ending. While it provides a great bookend to a circular story, it goes back to the predictable horror tropes. Once the big reveal is made and the viewer figures out the mystery there was nothing else holding my attention, I started to think about where I was misled and didn’t connect the dots. But forgetting the last 5-10 minutes THE LOCALS is worth a watch.