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Population 436 (DVD)

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7 Reviews

Genre: Drama / Director: Michelle Maclaren / Actors: Jeremy Sisto, Fred Durst ... / DVD released 17 July, 2006 at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment / Features of the DVD: PAL

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    Your dooyooMiles Miles

    7 Reviews
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      24.10.2009 07:01
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      Good movie about a strange town.

      I while looking for a new movie to watch came across this one. The brief description of the movie is what caught my eye. A sleep little town that draws attention because of the simple fact there population has not changed in over a 100 years. How can that be.

      The cast is not any one that I have ever heard of before with the exception of Fred Durst of course. Not knowing any of them really though I can honestly say the acting was actually pretty good not being over done or under done. For once the acting in a horror thriller is good.

      The movie starts with a poor sap from the census, he is sent to try and figure out how its possible for this one little sleepy town to go for 100 years and the population not change.

      As Steve the census guy trys to figure it all out he realizes that no one really wants to give him a straight answers. After several attempts on his life he has to start to wonder what in the world is wrong with this town. I mean one guy threatens to shoot him at the local bar and another guy trys to strangle him at the hardware store. What is most weird about it is how friendly the rest of the town seems to be on the surface that is. As the old saying goes though with friends like that who needs enemys.

      The whole town seems to be off like a town lost in time. The clocks all seem to stop at a certain time and if they don't stop the towns people stop them. The doctor does not have a license to practice medicine and no one seems to care that his ideas are crazy at best.

      This is one weird town with a weird way about them. What is the secret that this town seems to be keeping?

      This is not the best movie in the world but its sure not the worst. The actors for the most part are not any that I have ever seen before. Would I watch this movie again you bet. Would I recommend it to my friends I sure would its good to fill the time.

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        13.08.2009 23:09
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        Mystery, horror, drama, thriller, romance, buddy movie

        Census taker Steve Kadey (Jeremy Sisto) is sent to the idyllic small town of Rockwell Falls and discovers it has had the same population of 436 residents for the last 100 years. As he struggles to get to the bottom of the mystery he finds the town is harbouring a disturbing and deadly secret and their rather unpleasant methods of protecting it.

        Plot wise, stylistically and atmospherically there are similarities to The Wicker Man, Stepford Wives, Tales of the Unexpected and The Twilight Zone although Population 436 simply isn't in the same class and can't escape the feel of a TV Movie. This is further compounded by director Michelle Maxwell MacLaren who worked as a producer on the X-Files, and the influence is obvious as is the rushed nature of some scenes and shots. On the plus side it is atmospheric and beautifully shot throughout.

        An engaging if not excellent central performance from Jeremy Sisto pulls the film together as unfortunately the script doesn't make the best job of the ideas it presents. Limp Bizkit lead singer Fred Durst (perhaps surprisingly) turns in a very measured and capable supporting performance as do many of the other actors.

        Population 436 is fairly predictable and too restrained for its own good, the sense of tension created early on is just crying out for a violent finale, unfortunately it just dissipates in the climatic scenes and confusion arises as to what genre the film is. I'm still not sure whether it's a horror, drama or mystery it as elements of all but seems unsure which direction to take.

        Although there are many negatives it is still a very watchable film thanks to the fantastic sense of atmosphere, excellent cinematography and engaging performances.

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          16.06.2009 00:26

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          Low budget film with low budget actors - intresting plot tho!!

          If you want a film that is mildy entertaining with a plot that is easy to follow but could be better then this is the film for you. It main downfall is fred durst who is better at music than he is at acting.

          However, this film is not a complete shambles as it does have a good story line that is easily understandable and manages to still be eery and a little scary without having to have a whole lot of blood adn guts. The plot of the story is a good one and if you like open endings then it is for you.

          The story revolved around a small town that has had the same population for many years, when someone is sent to investigate it seems like the perfect town, until, like all movies somthing suspicious is found and many explanations offered but what is the right one.

          In all, not a bad film, i wouldnt watch it again but it does havea few good plus points.

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          15.02.2009 01:21
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          Creepy but unsatisfying

          I was given this DVD as a gift, because I am quite fond of the lead actor, Jeremy Sisto. There's something about his dark curly hair and intense eyes that makes me watch films a little more closely if they have him in!

          Population 436 is a thriller, or a mystery horror. That's not my favourite genre of films but it's one that I'm happy to watch and that I do enjoy on occasion. This particular thriller is a straight-to-DVD movie, but I decided not to hold that against it as I have actually seen some pretty good films that have for some reason not achieved cinematic release. However, half an hour after this one began, I was almost certain that this was not one of them, and an hour later I was positive.

          The plot of the movie is as follows: Steve Kady (Sisto, looking a little worse for wear) is an investigator for the census bureau, and travels to Rockwell Falls to investigate why the town's population hasn't changed from 436 in the last hundred years or so. When he gets there he quickly realises that despite the beautiful surroundings and the apparently friendly locals, there is something disturbing going on. Can Steve figure out what's happening? Can he save those who are in danger and prevent further atrocities occurring? And can he actually get out of the town himself?

          The story, though not very original, isn't too bad. It's passable, but although there are a lot of twists and turns, I saw all of them coming, and some were so clearly signposted that I was shocked when my film-watching companions seemed surprised by them! Still, even though it's predictable, the plot is decent enough to have resulted in a solid 3 star thriller with the right writing and direction.

          Unfortunately, this film does not have the right writing and directing. The first half hour is so unbearably slow that I was tempted to switch off, and it is not really until the last half hour that anything much happens. Once the last half hour does arrive, there's quite a bit of tension and a few thrills, but it feels like too little too late.

          The acting is good enough, particularly from Charlotte Sullivan as a young woman who hates living in Rockwell Falls and wonders if Steve could be her ticket out. Sisto is also decent, and very watchable, and Fred Durst turns in a surprisingly solid performance as the deputy sheriff. But they have such a poor script to work with and there's only so much that they can do with that material.

          I found the film disappointing, and I wouldn't recommend it or watch it again. The DVD costs a huge £17.99 on Amazon at the moment, but a while ago I saw it selling on the same site for a couple of pounds, so if you fancy it then wait a while and you may be able to pick up a bargain.

          The only special feature on the DVD is an alternate ending. There's only a couple of seconds of different footage in it but those seconds do change the overall outcome and give the film a completely different tone. I personally preferred the alternate ending, but each to their own I suppose. Even with my preferred ending, the film still just scrapes 2 stars.

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            18.12.2008 22:48
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            Not one to avoid, just don't go out of your way to watch it.

            Despite having read numerous review on Population 436 that were average at best, I still went ahead and rented it. There was just one reason that I had an insatiable urge to watch this film and that was Fred Durst, my youthful crush and visitor to many of my teenage dreams. I doubt there will be many of you who share my physical attraction to Durst, and frankly, having watched the film, the fire in me has started to dwindle. So really, there's little reason to watch the film since there is little else on offer in terms of the plot or the acting.

            The premise of Population 436 is simple and I'm not spoiling it by revealing that the population of Rockwell Falls has remained at 436 for over 100 years. Steve Kady is a researcher for the US Census Bureau and comes to investigate what is initially assumed to be an anomaly in the census figures for Rockwell Falls. The town itself appears idyllic on the surface but there is an eerie suspense lurking below which is indicated to the viewer through the rather unsubtle use of a tense soundtrack and plenty of ham acting from almost the entire cast. Just in case you aren't suspicious enough regarding events in the town, the director provides us with plenty of lingering shots of strangers stalking our hero, Kady, and general talk of superstitious nonsense that all but a few of the town's residents seem chant unquestioningly.

            Population 436 somehow seems to include almost every cliché from the thriller / horror genre. There's the last outpost in the form of a gas station where the locals refuse to give him directions to Rockwell Falls. Add to that the warning from a local resident to head back where he's come from and the eerie creaking of the town's sign, but our hero keeps persisting in entering the town. It shouldn't come as any surprise then that things in the town of Rockwell Falls are not entirely as they seem.

            Add a sinister doctor with no medical qualifications, clandestine meetings in the town hall, and the references to a curious fever that afflicts anyone who expresses a desire to leave the town and you're in for predictable 90 minutes of film watching. Performance wise, Fred Durst is definitely one of the most likeable and believable characters in the film. It is Durst and Jeremy Sisto (who plays the part of Kady) who seem to carry the film. It's hard to tell if this is due to their superior acting skills or just the stark contrast between these two characters and the other appalling performances.

            The ending was always going to go one of two ways and this is apparent within the first 15 minutes or so of the film. The DVD only includes one special feature which is almost as predictable as the film and takes the form of an alternative ending. As I said, there were only ever two likely outcomes to the film and in case you plumped for the wrong one, you'll find it here. Perhaps the most entertaining aspect of the DVD was the fact that it offered French, Italian and Spanish dubbed versions. I opted for a bit of Spanish and the ham acting of the original actors was completely trumped by the over zealous Spanish voice artists who seemed to shout every line in a very deep voice. I don't speak a word of Spanish but it entertained me for ten minutes or so which is perhaps more than can be said for the film itself.

            Population 436 isn't quite a dire film but it isn't one I'd advise you to go out of your way to watch. Faced with the choices of Songs of Praise, The Antiques Roadshow or Population 436 on a Sunday evening, I'd probably watch it again. But hopefully, that situation will never arise.

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              06.03.2008 18:20
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              A man finds aquaint town differs to expectation

              Steve Kady is a census taker given the task of travelling to Rockwell Falls to discus the population situation of the town. According to the American governments records the population of Rockwell Falls has been 436 since the late 1800's. Having studied a map Steve cannot figure out how to access the town; and when he stops for gas friendly people suddenly turn hostile refusing to help him on his search. Steve's day goes from bad to worse when he observes a woman riding on her horse, obviously distracted by her beauty he is shocked to see her suddenly ejected from the beast. No sooner has this occurred than Steve crashes his car into the side of the road. Luckily Bob one of Rockwell Falls police officers is on hand to direct Steve into the town; telling him his car will be dealt with.

              Steve is surprised by his warm greeting in the town; he is treated like an old friend. Everybody seems enthusiastic to meet him; they all want to give him knowledge while at the same time share in his knowledge. Its blatantly apparent to Steve that Rockwell Falls is like no other place and the fact that no recorded crime has taken place since 1880 solidifies that fact.

              Steve is initially swept up in the joy of the towns environment; but his attention is continuously driven into dark thoughts as residents state in conversation that he has just moved to Rockford Falls rather than just passing through. When Steve corrects people on the fact that he is not staying he is greeted with the reply "we'll see" or similar. But Steve becomes more alarmed when looking through the towns records; when it becomes apparent that each new arrival or birth in the town is met by the death of another resident.


              Cast
              David Ames .... Ronald Greaver
              James Blicq .... Obie Spark
              Cory Cassidy .... Wyle
              Fred Durst .... Cop
              Leigh Enns .... Kathy Most
              Dana Horrox .... Jack's wife
              Peter Outerbridge .... Deputy Hecker
              Gavin Polone .... Aames
              Jeremy Sisto .... Steve Kady
              Rick Skene .... Ray Jacobs
              Charlotte Sullivan .... Courtney

              I met Population 436 with some scepticism; I have not seen a really good movie in a couple of weeks and I had a few concerns about the film. Firstly its obviously a budget movie, and secondly the presence of Limp Bizkit's lead singer Fred Durst just compounded my fear. However to my great joy I was deeply impressed with Population 436; in fact I believe that not now but in the future it will become a cult hit. To categorise Population 436 is difficult its not a horror, but is kind of borderline on the horror/thriller genre. To compare the movie to another it's a kind of combination of Strange Behaviour, The Wicker Man, and Children Of The Corn. But really although you cannot help but make comparisons Population 436 deserves to be recognized as a movie in its own right.


              Although as I stated the movie is obviously produced on a limited budget; it does not look cheap. The cast is filled with familiar looking faces but none you can put a name too. The location of the movie is well thought out; I believe that the choice term when hunting down the location was "Heaven On Earth" as you'd certainly want to live in this town. Despite the movies limits it still manages to pull off some big style special effects; and there is certainly no nasty CGI to cheapen the deal.

              The storyline is kind of predictable..... To a point! You appreciate from a very early stage that things in Rockwell Falls are not as they seem and the focus on the population obviously emphasises this. However the purpose behind the unusual events and quite how the movie will end will hit 99% of the viewing population with some surprise. A lot of time and effort has been spent defining the characters; even the most dislikeable characters seem loveable; and every member of the main cast is given a three dimensional handling. You get a good feel of all the characters; what makes them tick, why they love Rockwell Falls and what there aspirations are.


              The main character Steve is the one that you get to know the least about really; you can identify that he has trauma, his wife and child died in an accident but this is never elaborated on and as a result Steve remains a kind of cold character who you cannot quite get to the heart of, close but not quite. Officer Bob played by Fred Durst, one of the main areas of caution with this movie provides the most likeable character; and better still he is almost unrecognisable as the former controversial band front runner. His character is tied to the boundaries and beliefs of Rockwell Falls; but Bob is sad and lonely he wants a friend and he wants to be loved. With the arrival of Steve he figures he has at last found that friend; and a few pep talks with Steve and he is pushed in the direction of his second goal, to find love. Which leads me on to the character of Courtney played by Charlotte Sullivan one of the most beautiful actresses I have seen for some considerable time. Her character adds a little excitement to the fuel of the friendship of Steve and Bob; because although she like Bob she becomes fascinated with Steve and more to the point sees Steve as her exit from Rockwell Falls, something she was trying to do at the very beginning of the movie.

              Everyone that lives in Rockwell Falls suffers each night with the same dream; the same but different. The true meaning of the dream is shockingly explained at the end of the movie but I suspected all the way through that this dream had a different meaning; which is what provided me with the greatest pleasure at the end.


              If you enjoy a good mystery, and love a few surprises then should the opportunity to see Population 436 be presented to you, you'd be a fool to turn it down.

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                14.10.2007 18:48
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                Straight to DVD TV shocker - but it passes the time

                When a government census-taker (Steve Kady) is sent to a sleepy US town, he is bemused to find himself in a town that appears to be suspended in time. Almost entirely cut off from the outside world, the inhabitants of Rockwell Falls live an idyllic lifestyle, free from crime and violence and completely happy in their self-contained environment. After a very warm welcome, Kady sets about his task and is puzzled to find that the population of the town has neither increased nor increased in over 100 years. The population remains at 436.

                But Rockwell Falls is not the haven it purports to be. When a local man is killed in a car accident, his grief-stricken daughter must be sedated to keep her calm and the local surgeon (Dr Ronald Greaver) believes that she is the latest victim of a strange local ailment known only as the fever. Kady suspects foul play, but when he attempts to intervene, the girl accuses him of trying to abduct her. As the mystery deepens, Kady finds that the townsfolk of Rockwell Falls have a rather more sinister agenda planned for him; one that involves retaining the overall town ownership at 436. The answer is in the numbers....

                Population 436 is a straight-to-DVD number that will almost certainly have passed you by. An innocuous cast, complemented by a little-known director means that the film arrived in virtual media silence, with no real change to that reaction ever since. The film's limited budget and scope promises little, but in actual fact, Population 436 is a fairly effective little mystery story that becomes far more entertaining than many of its peers that have far larger budgets and far more famous cast members.

                Director Michelle Maxwell McLaren is a familiar name amongst US TV circles, having directed various episodes of The X Files, Law and Order and other popular shows. Population 436 is reflective of the director's previous experience in that blends together supernatural, mystery and criminal drama into a strange mixture that's undoubtedly tamer than you might expect. This is palatable television movie material; nothing particularly challenging or gripping here, but an interesting story told at an appropriate pace that will pass a period of time without issue. Imagine a slightly more family friendly version of The Wicker Man and you'll be pretty close to the events of Population 436.

                When you think you've got things sussed out, it will almost certainly transpire that you haven't, given only that there are two central ideas at play here. Firstly, we have the mystery of Rockwell Falls' population, a town that hasn't apparently changed in over 100 years, with something clearly not right. The fact that everybody seems to be stuck in a time warp might lead you in one direction, but the only thing that's certain is that the inhabitants are just too sickly sweet to be true. There's only one thing more dangerous than an unfriendly welcome in an American backwater and that's a particularly friendly one. Sure enough, those who seemed very trustworthy very quickly cease to be that but it's a fairly entertaining transition from start to finish.

                Familiar (and in all honesty rather over-done) concepts quickly emerge throughout Population 436 and it would be difficult to credit the creative team with astounding originality. You have a slightly sinister doctor who reveals a penchant for DIY brain surgery that really isn't going to help anyone. You have a mysterious illness, understood only by the town's inhabitants, which seems to conveniently strike people down when they're at their most awkward with little concern from the townsfolk. The mayor and sheriff are prominent (and therefore complicit) in everything. The friendly landlady is just a bit too nosy for her own good and just happens to have a beautiful daughter who's clearly not letting on everything that she knows. Nonetheless, in spite of these offbeat and varied occurrences, the tale is told in a very straight-forward manner; a very mainstream television drama style that wouldn't work at the cinema and wouldn't attract much attention anywhere else. The creative team only has a few tricks up its sleeves and the occasional reveal (when it comes) really doesn't offer much of a surprise.

                Television favourite Jeremy Sisto is an innocuous but generally likeable lead who picks up on all the clues and acts as accordingly as we might expect. Fred Durst (of Limp Bizkit fame) is surprisingly grounded as deputy sheriff Bobby but you can't help feeling he'd like to have a bit more to do. The rest of the cast comprises generally rather unmemorable faces all of whom kind of do what they need to do without doing much else.

                This is, in essence, the recurring theme throughout Population 436. The film manages to be adequately interesting, is generally effective when it comes to action and moves along at a pace that could never be described as slow but in summary presents very few challenges or innovations. It certainly isn't a creepy film and any attempt to be such consistently fails through cliché or plain stupidity. Similarly, there's nothing particularly fresh about the whole thing and the first twenty minutes or so run the risk of being too staid and tiresome to encourage you to sit through to the end.

                Yet, strangely enough, the overall product is entertaining enough to be described as "pleasing". Certainly, my interest increased gradually as the film progressed such that by the conclusion I was genuinely intrigued to find out what would happen next. The neatness of the story's climax is such that I found myself thinking that with bigger budget and bigger names this could have been a much more successful enterprise, but, as it is, it works entirely well on its own.

                Sometimes, if you don't expect much, you're not generally disappointed. With Population 436 this is almost entirely true. There's some entertainment to be had here. Make of it what you will.

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            • Product Details

              On the surface, life in Rockwell Falls seems idyllic and has remained unchanged for 100 years. But when Steve Kady, a U.S. census taker, arrives in town to investigate the unusually stagnant population, he unearths a much darker secret that lies at the heart of this creepy community: no-one is ever allowed to leave.