Drug taking. Check. Car chases. Check. Satanic rituals. Check. Attempted burials. Check. Medieval re-enacting dwarves. Check. Yup, Weirdsville has it all.
Taking me back to all the slacker films of the 90s (in particular, Go), Weirdsville plays like a series of inter-connected skits, all fighting to be part of the same movie. The problem with that is that this has been done many, many times before. So, what does this add to the junkie/slacker genre?
The plot, such as it is, revolves around stoners Dexter and Royce, two Canadians living in the Ontario town of Weedsville (population: 5,000). It follows the events that happen to them over one week, and in particular one night, when they find themselves owing a heck of a lot of cash to their drug dealer. These events include Royce’s girlfriend OD-ing, almost burying said girlfriend, an attempted safe heist, holding a millionaire’s son hostage, a run-in with a dwarf security guard in a shopping mall and accidentally crashing a satanic ritual in an old, abandoned movie drive-in.
How it plays out these various scenarios is irrelevant as the point here is to place the stars in a series of Crazy (with that capital C loud and proud) incidents that will amuse and bemuse. Most of the scenes are screaming at you ‘Look how wacky this film is! Aren’t we all just nuts?’ and the result is one of largely apathy as this kind of thing’s been done a million times before.
I say largely apathy, because it’s not all bad. Some scenes are highly entertaining. One in particular, when Dexter and Royce interrogate a millionaire’s son, is great and Royce’s musings about spray-on mayonnaise are far funnier than they should be. These moments are largely down to the performances of the two leads – Wes Bentley and Scott Speedman. You’ll know Bentley as the weird kid from American Beauty and the only other piece of work of his I’d seen before this was in the frankly incomprehensible Soul Survivors. On the basis on his performance in this though, I’d say he could have a good career ahead of him yet.
Scott Speedman is the real revelation though. He was pretty average in both Underworld movies but then when all he had to do was look rugged and run around a lot, it’s hard to tell how decent an actor he actually was. In Weirdsville, he’s given the chance to flex his comedic acting chops and flex them he does, bringing surprising empathy to the character at the same time. Indeed, in a film where you genuinely couldn’t give a stuff about any of the horrendous characters that fill the screen, it’s a relief that Dexter at least draws moments of real compassion from you.
The chemistry between the two is nice to watch and some well-crafted dialogue helps things along. The best supporting role goes to satanic worshipper Abel (played by Grek Bryk who was in A History of Violence and will also be starring in the movie adaptation of video game XIII) who gets many of the best lines (“One little satanic ritual. Is that too much to ask?”)
As for extras, you get several small featurettes, including shopping for bongs to be used in the film (complete with advice from the shopkeeper on the various features of each bong) and interviews with the cast members (including one with Grek Bryk about how his satanic role weirded him out so much he visited a white witch to help keep the demons away).
Mostly, the interviews don’t really bring up anything particularly interesting other than the standard comments from the cast on how much they enjoyed working with each other and that Allan Moyle is such a great director (natch). There’s nothing wrong with that, per se, but they don’t exactly leave you gasping for more.
Far more interesting is the short ‘A brief tour of Weirdsville’ featurette where even the director admits that the story is ‘a red herring to the atmosphere and the people’. In fact, pretty much the entire cast and crew acknowledges that the plot itself is irrelevant, which at least confirms that I wasn’t missing any hidden subtext to the whole affair. Best of all though is the callback audition of Greg Bryk, which gives a great insight into the acting profession and comes complete with über-honest opinions from the crew about how he fared.
Whether you would enjoy watching Weirdsville probably comes down to how familiar you are with this genre. For the uninitiated it’s a fairly decent watch and you can add another star to the rating below. For the rest of us, this brings nothing new to the table and for that reason it’s a below average film.The DVD is out on 10th March 2008.
For another take on the film, check out our review from 2007’s Edinburgh Film Festival here.