I’ve just got back from a nice little, much needed family vacation a couple of days ago. Rather than wait too long, I’ve decided to jump right back into my normal routine, and give another new horror flick a go. This time, it is one that I’ve been excited about, Charlie Steeds’ 2018 effort, The Barge People.
A group consisting of sisters Kat and Sophie and their boyfriends, Mark and Ben, set off on what is to be a relaxing and peaceful weekend getaway along the glorious British countryside. After a run in with some trouble, the group soon realizes that the angry locals are the least of their worries.
I know we grow up being told to never judge a book by its cover, but in the case of The Barge People, all I needed to be aware of was the title and the cover to know that I was all in on this one. I have been stung pretty badly in the past, falling for the same formula of impressive cover art and catchy, hair-raising title, but fingers crossed, this time was going to be different… and it sure was.
In the vein of films like The Hills Have Eyes and the Wrong Turn franchise, Charlie Steeds’ The Barge People is a monster movie with a real slasher backbone. Our group of protagonists are picked off one by one in gruesome fashion by some hideously disfigured assailants, those of which happen to be results of years of inbreeding, cannibalism, etc. If this doesn’t sound like a fun time to you, you can stop reading right now. If, however, this is up your alley, continue on.
Our main cast is comprised of some great talent, all of whom were completely new to me. Kate Davies-Speak (Escape From Cannibal Farm), Mark McKirdy (Vampire Virus), Natalia Martins (Kill or Be Killed), and Matt Swales, as Kat, Mark, Sophie, and Ben, respectively, each do a wonderful job portraying their characters. They are able to tell their backstories provided by writer Christopher Lombard in a natural way and without forcing it down your throat. The audience is able to see how they interact with each other and their surroundings in order to get an idea of what type of people they are. It isn’t often, these days, that you get this type of development from many independent films in the horror genre.
Whether you care for the characters presented before you or not is important here because they will inevitably be meeting their demise. When they do so, it is done in brutal and explicit ways. The cover for the home release of The Barge People has a quote from Starburst Magazine stating that the film is “satisfying gory.” This is no lie, as Steeds and team spare no expense when it comes to killing off the characters he has so meticulously built up previously. If you enjoy the gore seen in classic slasher flicks from the 80s, then you will love what is being offered here, as well.
Slicing, dicing, gutting, chomping, and more are all on display here with 100% practical effects. The same can be said about the look of each of our named antagonists, too. Our menacing barge creatures — Razor, Blade, Hammerhead, and Nail — all have their own unique looks, sounds, and mannerisms, aiding in setting even these hideous baddies apart from one another. The make-up and effects department didn’t cut any corners when it came to designing this family of cannibalistic monsters, as their look really is a highlight of the film’s 83 minute runtime.
The Barge People at Home
Charlie Steeds’ The Barge People will be available to own on VOD, Digital HD, DVD, and Blu-ray on August 18 from RLJE Films. It can also be streamed on Shudder.
Both the DVD and Blu-ray releases present the film in 2.35:1 Widescreen format with optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles. The DVD has a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track, while the Blu-ray boasts a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track.
Sadly, there are no bonus features available on either release. I would have loved to see some behind the scenes footage on the making of this film, the special effects, etc.
I have never seen any other film by Charlie Steeds, but after seeing the quality of work he brings to his projects, I am more than interested in hunting down his previous work. With titles like Escape from Cannibal Farm, Deadman Apocalypse, and The House of Violent Desire, how can you not be intrigued?
The Barge People isn’t without its imperfections, but choreographed fight scenes that are a bit wonky or stretched out 15 seconds more than they should be can certainly be overlooked; The performances are top-notch, the writing is impressive, and the special effects are exquisite.
I highly recommend checking this one out, as I give The Barge People 4 scatter monkeys out of 5.