Population 436 (2006)

Directed by Michelle MacLaren. Written by Michael Kingston. Starring Jeremy Sisto, Fred Durst (yes, that Fred Durst!), Charlotte Sullivan, Peter Outerbridge, R.H. Thomson and David Fox.

Plot: a census taker comes to a small town to see why the population has remained the same for the past 100 years.

A census taker, Steve Kady (Sisto) is sent to the small town of Rockwell Falls in North Dakota because the population has remained at 436 residents exactly for the last 100 years. As you can imagine, people on the outside are confused about this. When he arrives in town, no one’s really friendly towards him at first, but then Deputy Bobby Caine (Durst) takes him to meet the mayor and Sheriff Jim Calcutt (Thomson), who are pleasant enough. He’s then taken to the Lovett’s family home where he intends to stay until he’s done his work. Only Mrs. Lovett and her beautiful daughter, Courtney (Sullivan), live there. Of course, Steve develops feelings for Courtney quite quickly even though Bobby already likes her and wants to marry her.

As Steve begins to question the townspeople, they get nicer and nicer, until he goes to see Dr. Greaver (Fox). Dr. Greaver doesn’t want Steve poking around his clinic and Steve finds out why when he discovers a young girl, Amanda, in Dr. Greaver’s care that doesn’t want to be “cared for” anymore. She’s apparently been getting electroshock therapy for her schizophrenia. Steve isn’t sure Amanda is really sick though and she eventually tells him that anyone who wants to leave Rockwell Falls is diagnosed with “the fever” and given something like a lobotomy. So, now he has to figure out how he’s going to get himself and Courtney (who likes him, too) out of the town.

And now I’m going to ruin this one for you because I want to. Because it was that bad of a movie and you should know what you’re getting into.

******SPOILERS AHEAD******

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Towards the climax of the movie, the townspeople admit that the population is God’s doing. That anyone who wants to leave the town is accused of having “the fever” and “treated” accordingly. And that others accept their own executions as inevitabilities when a child is born because the population can never falter from 436. Quite reasonably, Steve freaks out and since Courtney is sleeping with him and Bobby knows it, they are both taken to see the good doctor. Steve escapes however, and a kind resident of Rockwell Falls gives him the keys to a truck, tells him about a back way out and then helps create a diversion by burning down a garage.

So, Steve goes to the clinic, busts Amanda out and in trying to bust Courtney out, too, he discovers that she has been completely “treated”. There are holes in her skull now and no one’s at home, if you know what I mean. He and Amanda still decide to run though. They get into the truck and make it safely out of Rockwell Falls. Then, after a sigh of relief, an even bigger truck comes and hits them head on killing both of them instantly.

I loved Fred Durst in the 90’s, but I don’t know what I was expecting of a movie starring him. The acting was okay, but the story was pretentious and pessamistic. DJ particularly hated the psuedo-intellectual BS this was spouting. And I found it to be a blatent ripoff of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”, only “The Lottery” was actually original and focused on good story telling to give you the shivers. You should definitely just read that story instead of watching this movie. You will be so much better for it.

Our score: 15.

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