Jason Ford’s debut film Community finds a couple of film students on an run-down estate that seems to be entirely populated by sadistic murderers and inbred weirdos.
This hoodie horror takes its cues from films like Deliverance and The Hills Have Eyes, albeit set much closer to home.
Jemma Dellander and Elliot Jordan play Isabelle and Will, who set out to the notorious estate to try and find out the truth about the disturbing rumours surrounding it. Ignoring the obvious warning signs (like the fact that the last bus leaves the estate at four in the afternoon), no sooner have they arrived than they meet cat-murdering minors, monstrous mums, and hoodie-wearing teens who communicate with each other via howling.
The two leads are solid enough, and Ford creates a couple of tense set-pieces as Isabelle and Will realise they are in way over their heads. He’s chosen his location well and the actors are committed. But the very occasional nods towards social commentary, (such as the fact that the estate has been abandoned to fall into such a horrifying state) don’t make up for the sense of leering voyeurism. And once Ford plays his hand at the end of the first act there are no more surprises.
There are some grimly effective torture scenes and a rendition of Jerusalem might raise a wry smile, but there’s an unpleasant freak-show element to the film. The audience expect the grim setting to deliver up the worst kind of depravity, and that’s what it delivers. There’s a line towards the end of the film about how people who want to know what life is really like on an estate should go and look for themselves, but it’s played with a wink and a smile.
It’s difficult to think of the hoodie horror subgenre’s outstanding, shining moment.
The closest would probably be James Watkins’ opinion-splitting Eden Lake, or maybe Paul Andrew Williams’ Cherry Tree Lane. There’s a dispiriting tendency for these films to simply use the fear of youths, and the disdain for the parents who let their children become criminals and murderers, as an excuse for 90-odd minutes of grimy slashing and screaming. It would be unfair to use Community as an example of how the subgenre can be simply unpleasant but the fact it is that it sticks to the formula fairly rigidly.
However, Ford proves to have a reasonably steady hand behind the camera and there are some effective moments in the first half. Dedicated fans of hoodie horror might find something to enjoy but, depressingly, this goes exactly where you’d expect it to.