Due to current events in 2020, many of us sadly had to put the kibosh on our Summer plans. Be it visiting family, attending weddings, or just taking a trip to the country. But if horror movies have taught us anything, Summer sojourns can lead to disaster… or worse. This is the premise of the British back-river horror of The Barge People.
The story follows two sisters, Kat (Kate Davies-Speak) and Sophie (Natalie Martins) as they decided to spend a weekend holiday with their respective boyfriends laid back Mark (Mark McKirdy) and the obnoxious businessman, Ben (Matt Swales) in the British countryside. Deciding to rent a barge and take a slow, romantic ride through the canals of the backwoods, the quartet find themselves in conflict with some irate locals… and even more bloodthirsty inhabitants of the polluted waterways.
The Barge People is a U.K. horror movie from 2018 but finally hitting Stateside. It’s a low-budget affair to be sure, but it’s a fun one. Watching it, the movie does have an aura of direct to video horror movies and slashers of the 1980’s. Even the title cards and credit sequence flaunt the aesthetic without leaning into it too hard. Even more evident in the synth, tense score from composer Sam Benjafield, which is a high point of the production. The story itself is a definitive throwback to movies like The Hills Have Eyes and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre but with a distinctly British twist and featuring some Lovecraftian fish mutants instead of hillbillies and rednecks.
The story is a bit by the numbers and the characters are a bit flat, granted, but The Barge People does deliver in the gore and practical fx departments. Living up to the movies of yesteryear it’s emulating with little to no CGI. Giving an ample amount of sticky red blood plastered across victims and the screen. Then of course are the titular Barge People. Horrifying fish-human hybrids created by toxic and chemical waste polluting the local water routes. Though amphibious, with their trenchcoats and hooks they also give off a bit of a Hellraiser vibe. Unfortunately, none really give off the kind of gravitas or charisma to give us a ‘Pinhead’-esque lead killer, but the FX and designs are fine enough.
The Barge People isn’t the most fleshed out horror and probably could have used a little more depth. Like I said, flat characters, and a formulaic plot. But for the gorehounds and people just wanting a fun, simple, creature feature, mutant horror, this is an enjoyable watch. Also plenty of unconnected but mood setting kills of random and passing by victims just to add some extra bodies and guts here and there. Unfortunately, the home video release is rather bare bones. No special features on the DVD/Blu-Ray. Not even a trailer. Just the movie and subtitles. That is it. There is a decent embossed slipcover, but that’s really as much as you get.
Still, if you’re in the mood for some mindless, old school, beastly slasher fun with a decent amount of charm, have a pint and take a float with The Barge People.
The Barge People hits VOD, DVD, and Blu-Ray on August 18th, 2020.