Nothing says Thanksgiving than a dysfunctional family forced to sit around a table and attempt to be pleasant. For the family we follow in Derelicts, it’s going to get a whole lot worse…
Father of the house, Greg (David Lee Hess) and his wife Constance (Kelly Dealyn) have a terrible start to the day when they are awoken by the loud lovemaking of Grandfather Paul (Pat Turner) and his brash girlfriend Bev (Lana Dieterich). It also affects depressed daughter Barbara (Emily Ammon), and hormonal son Leslie (Dalton Allen), who has to sort himself out in the shower. There’s a strain between them all, which will be pushed to the limit when, instead of a visit from Constance’s brother and nephew, they are pounced on by a group of vagrants. Over the course of the day, their reign of terror will rip the family apart even further.
Director and co-writer Brett Glassberg points an astute eye on the conventionality of family by staging a vicious home invasion during one of the tent-pole holidays in the US. The relationships in the nice, suburban family compared to the harsh, nasty, violent outlaws are apparent. The latter group have a sense of togetherness that the real family lack. Respecting their patriarch, Cap (Les Best), they look after each other in a twisted form of devotion. They all look out for the vicious Turk (Andre Evrenos), who appears to be genuinely disturbed and wears a teddy bear as a mask (we can see this becoming an iconic look).
Derelicts owes a lot to the gritty home invasion films of the past. It’s more like The House on the Edge of the Park in tone than Funny Games. There’s plenty of gore and eye-popping moments (literally), but it’s not as explicitly sadistic as the Ruggero Deodato film. While all this nastiness is all well and good, there’s some real horror in the ‘regular’ family sequences. The pain they can inflict within their ranks might not be as bloody, but it’s just as painful. As such, it’s hard to find sympathy with any of the characters.
Although its lower budget slightly hampers Derelicts, it’s undoubtedly one of the most memorable films of its type in recent years, and for that reason, we can recommend it; we don’t know whether you’ll be thankful for it, though.