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Clever ‘100 Bloody Acres’ Finds Horror-Comedy Balance

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CHICAGO – “We’re not psychos, all right?!?! We’re small business operators.” It’s been awhile since there was a horror-comedy as fun as “100 Bloody Acres,” opening today in Chicago at the Music Box Theatre, and playing in some other markets around the country. It’s not a perfect genre entry but this blend of comedy and horror, so expertly tackled by filmmakers like Sam Raimi & Edgar Wright, is much harder to pull off than it looks (as evidenced by mountains of horror-comedies that aren’t funny or scary). “100 Bloody Acres” pulls it off, finding some dark strains of humor and some grisly moments to go with them. For genre fans, it’s a definite success.

Reg Morgan (Damon Herriman of “Justified”) runs a fertilizer business with his brother Lindsay (Angus Sampson). Reg is the meeker, gentler of the two, while brother Lindsay is a giant of a man, an imposing force who looks like he stepped off the set of a “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” remake. The Morgans are just trying to get their business going when a nearby car accident drops a gift in their lap. It turns out that car crash victims make great fertilizer. They use the bodies and life goes on as normal until Reg finds another body on the side of the road months later and decides to try it again. He dumps the body in his truck and takes off for his plant.

100 Bloody Acres
100 Bloody Acres
Photo credit: Music Box Films

Reg runs into, almost quite literally, two guys and a girl on a road trip. Sophie (Anna McGahan) is sleeping with both her boyfriend and the other friend with whom she’s travelling. Reg also seems quite smitten with the beautiful young lady, and doesn’t quite think straight when he agrees to give her a ride in the cab of his truck while the two guys hang out in the back…with the body they inevitably find. When they get back to the farm, Lindsay tries to clean up Reg’s mess, turning the first body into product and tying up the three newbies, one of whom is on a numbing acid trip. Things get both sillier and bloodier from there.

“100 Bloody Acres” has some great little beats – jokes that aren’t hit overly hard (which is the common mistake of the genre) like the gigantic pumpkins on the farm that have come from the human fertilizer or the way that a shot cop’s helmet snaps closed on him after the back of his head explodes. Little visual gags add up on “100 Bloody Acres” like they do in Peter Jackson’s “Dead-Alive” while the script also contains a surprising degree of clever, fun dialogue for its actors to deliver. Some of the plot twists aren’t genuine – no one gives a damn if their girlfriend has cheated on them while tied up by serial killers – but the dialogue is so much smarter than most of the genre offerings that it’s forgivable.

100 Bloody Acres
100 Bloody Acres
Photo credit: Music Box Films

It helps that the cast is uniformly strong, especially McGahan and Herriman. The actor best-known from “Justified” has a perfect blend of naïvete and malice for a role like this one. Reg wants to impress his brother, can’t wait to hear his ad on the radio, but seems to not have fully considered the fact that he’s going to have to turn the girl he’s got a crush on into a pile of bloody goo. And XXX is sexy, funny, and smart. It’s a totally engaging performance in a genre in which the victims are often just punchlines for over-the-top villains. They so easily could have been here.

“100 Bloody Acres” features enough lines, set pieces, and story beats that come from unexpected places that it entertains throughout. It’s not a classic of the genre like the films that seem to have inspired it but it’s so refreshing to see a horror-comedy that’s actually funny that you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a bloody masterpiece.

“100 Bloody Acres” stars Damon Herriman, Angus Sampson, and Anna McGahan. It was written and directed by Cameron & Colin Cairnes. It opens on June 28, 2013.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

Content Director

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