One of the boldest and most overlooked cinematic sub-genres to emerge in recent years has been the British hoodie horror. With its best efforts - the likes of Cherry Tree Lane and Eden Lake - combining elements of horror and social realism - it has endeavoured to comment on the real life horrors of poverty and neglect whilst bringing fear closer to home. At its heart is an uneasy tension - most filmmakers are middle class and the films themselves risk becoming a sort of tourism, even where they feature middle class characters forced to face their own hypocrisy. Smart films acknowledge and incorporate this. Films like Community miss the point entirely and come across as poverty porn.

Perhaps that's unfair. To call it porn is to imply that there might be some pleasure in it. In fact, the only part of life on a run down housing estate that this film captures well is the mind-numbing tedium, the sense that whoever made it didn't give a damn and that nothing of interest is ever going to happen. Yes, there's horror of a sort. There's a list of genre clich├ęs, some token gore and various men standing around roaring in a way that's supposed to be scary, but it's all the wrong kind of desperate.

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Jemma Dallender is Isabelle - "so young, so beautiful," so twee - a wannabe documentarian taking advantage of the exciting deprivation practically on her doorstep. Elliot Jordan is Will, her sulky camera operator, so new to the business that he doesn't even carry a light. He complains that the housing estate they're visiting is unreasonably isolated. This can only ever work so well in England, which has few places from which a fit, able-bodied person can't walk to a city in the space of a day - so we have the bus driver make a pointed remark about how his service ends when it gets dark. This kind of ham has a certain appeal but the stilted nature of what follow undermines it. The film is too obviously trying to be taken seriously. This is difficult when it borrows one of its plot points from the horror nadir that is Troll 2.

With lumbering dialogue throughout, the film presents increasingly ludicrous situations. Our hapless heroes let themselves be led around by kids whom anyone with an ounce of sense would assume were trying to wind them up. They express such consternation over little things like litter that one would think they'd never been allowed outside before. This leaves them with nowhere to go emotionally once they start discovering body parts. As for the villains, the permanently stoned nature of the neighbourhood residents means there's simply no energy in their petty nastiness. Paul McNeilly at least makes an effort as community leader Auntie but there's pretty much no depth to the character and it's two decades too late for her gender to have shock value. Similarly, Terry Bird's salt of the earth brute Dumpy is too innately bland for the actor's efforts to achieve anything.

Complete with a smug little twist at the end that you'll only fail to see coming if you've already fallen asleep, Community is a pointless exercise in filmmaking that can only harm the careers of those involved. Dallender may writhe around nicely but she's a charisma free zone, and with the whole thing so short on action, there's precious little reason to watch.

Reviewed on: 10 Mar 2013
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Two student filmmakers investigate a run-down housng estate and get more than they bargained for.

Director: Jason Ford

Writer: Jason Ford

Starring: Jemma Dallender, Elliott Jordan, Paul McNeilly, Terry Bird, Jo Dyson

Year: 2012

Runtime: 78 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


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