The Barge People depicts what could easily be described as the worst canal vacation ever. Kat (Kate Davies-Speak) and Jade (Makenna Guyler) along with boyfriends Mark (Mark McKirdy) and Ben (Matt Swales) respectively, rent a barge to tour the British countryside for a weekend of relaxation. Of course, they are unaware of the creatures that lurk below, among other things. The Barge People is a distinctly British horror flick that relishes in practical effects and an ’80s aesthetic that is pleasing enough to watch but seems to lack a certain level of tension.
We know what’s going to happen. We know that things will go horribly wrong here. That’s why we are watching anyway, right? Christopher Lombard‘s script is savvy enough to throw a few McGuffins our way as the riparian revelry runs afoul of local river rats Sophie(Natalie Martins) and Rickey (Kane Surry). The two ruffians have it out for the four weekenders after their barge home is nicked by the vacationing vessel and the chase is on.
Enter the fish people. Beautifully designed, these slurpy, gelatinous merfolk arrive in the middle of the night to ransack and feast. Throw Sophie and Rickey in and well, the four leads don’t stand a single chance of a relaxing weekend. The action is tight and the blood and other fluids spurt and flow freely. Yet something is amiss. At the beginning of the film we are given a cold open that overtly spells out the threat from the beginning. I wonder if a level of mystery would have accentuated the arrival of the titular monsters once they began to attack? As it stands this plays out like The Hills Have Eyes but with less tension and more water.
Director Charlie Steeds has a vision and it is a consistent one. The VHS look and feel of the movie along with Michael Lloyd‘s rich camera work are a great paring. Putting them with Sam Benjafield‘s music is another good move as the pic feels modern, yet vintage and forbidden.
I think that with a bit of tightening of sequences, The Barge People could have been something truly fun and disturbing. However, as it stands it is amusing and icky. Not exactly awful, not a stellar triumph, but a solid creature feature that will make you think twice about renting a boat, a barge, or even booking a vessel for maritime travel.
6 out of 10
|Random Acts of Violence|
|Runtime:||1 hr 18Mins.|