Director: Jon Hewitt (2008)
Starring: Joshua Payne, Sebastian Gregory, Hanna Mangan-Lawrence
Bullied schoolkids undergoing puberty discover a serial killer burying his dirty deeds in the woods. For reasons best known to themselves, the silly kiddiwinks decide to blackmail the killer into doing dastardly things for them. Namely, offing bully Gary Parker. Silly children. Their serial killer is less than thrilled with being blackmailed, and sets about hunting the brats down.
Like Deadgirl, this is a movie that deals with the difficult adolescent struggles of emotionally conflicted youths. Unlike Deadgirl, it's done with subtelty, maturity, intelligence and understanding. Whereas that previous film was high on gruesomeness but low on motivational believability (say what you like, but rape is NOT a standard response to zombification), Acolytes backs up its youths' nasty deeds by giving them plenty of motive for their actions.
Indeed, that buildup is slow at times but completely necessary. And once the game does get going properly, it doesn't let up until the end. The final 45 minutes or so have multiple plates spinning at once, efficiently working plenty of twists, action and neat character moments working like a tightly oiled machine. I've mixed my metaphors there, but Acolytes is worth it. It's an example of how a low budget need not detract from your movie. It even has not one but two great villains (perhaps more, depending on how you count them) going for it. As serial killer Ian Wright, Joel Edgerton is wonderfully cast, bringing a masterfully sinister moustache and sunglasses to the table. Bully Gary Parker is nicely slimy, more than making up for the spots of dodgy acting from the movie's leading trio.
(Predictable Ian Wright Joke)