THE BARGE PEOPLE
Written by Christopher Lombard
Directed by Charlie Steeds
Who knew the glorious British countryside could be so life-threatening? Google it. You’ll find nothing more to fear than an adder biting you or ticks to make you itch. For THE BARGE PEOPLE, director Charlie Steeds pits two sisters and their boyfriends up against angry, resentful locals, but the real threat to their weekend break, are the flesh-eating fish mutants lurking in the water. Genre folk know the score. This is the classic exploitation horror trope of the rural taking its revenge on the city or as Carol J Glover called it – urbanoia (MEN, WOMEN AND CHAINSAWS, 1992). While it doesn’t come close to visceral nihilism of Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1973), it does draw on the what if, urban legend aspects of The Hills Have Eyes (1977) or Wrong Turn (2003) for its world building.
Talk of chemical waste polluting the life out of the water comes up early during the story. Steeds even evokes the cat ‘n’mouse aspects of slasher films like Just Before Dawn (1981). THE BARGE PEOPLE spends a bit of time getting to the flesh-ripping meat of the movie as the two couples uneventfully chug down the canals, and overcome locks, but once the fish mutants mount their assault on the metropolitan elite, they’re not stopping until everyone is dead. It’s during these sequences that Steeds climbs up through the B Movie gears to deliver on the promise of fun-packed, bloody kills and the hapless, helpless fightback against these inhuman abominations.