On a stormy night, a semi-nude female was tied to her bed and knifed to death by her expressionless brother Marcus (Marcus Gray). He was never seen since, but two more murders were committed in quick succession shortly afterwards.

Welcome to Peyton Island.

This quiet island looks tranquil enough during the day. And resident teenager girl Alex (Chloe Van Harding) seems happy enough, skipping rocks into the sea with fellow youth Jess (Josh Golga). They flirt innocently, until suddenly a siren fills the air and they flee home panicking.

It transpires that Peyton Island has been living under a black cloud ever since the murders of the pre-credits sequence. The police, we learn, tried to get to the bottom of the matter but had no success and were subsequently shooed back to the mainland. Since then, the locals have self-imposed a curfew, regulated by mysterious figures in gasmasks known as Patrol Men. All of this is overseen by the sinister Mayor Yorke (Jonathan Hansler).

Little surprise then that Alex is going slowly insane within this extremely insular, paranoid environment. Sitting at home on an evening watching island-produced television shows with her staid father Walter (Jez Jameson) - "remember to close the curtains!" - doesn't help matters any. But at least she has her feelings for would-be rocker Jess to get her by.

However, no-one else seems to have much time for Jess (well, he does bear an unfortunate resemblance to a young Dario Argento). See, he's an "outsider" - he comes from "the city". Hence, Alex's classmates proclaim their distaste of him, and Walter warns him away from his daughter. Undeterred, Jess continues to pursue Alex - and attempt to further convince her that the way of life on the island is all wrong.

Alex warns Jess of the threat of Marcus still being loose on the island, but he doesn't buy the story. Nor does he intend to stick to the curfew in place - claiming to have no fear of the ominous Patrol Men.

But he soon learns that there is indeed something to fear on the island - and it's not just the endless array of quirky, bizarre characters ...

Well-shot, adroitly edited and atmospheric, PATROL MEN frequently looks great (the Lulworth Cove locations are superbly utilised) and even manages to recall the look and feel of low budget 80s horror films in some set-piece moments.

Reasonably acted for the most part given its low budget origins and largely non-professional cast, the film also benefits from assured direction from long-time buddies Ben Simpson and David Campion. They also co-wrote the witty, sure-footed script with producer Niall Maher.

THE WICKER MAN, THE DEMON HEADMASTER, MEAN STREETS, BLOODY MOON ... influences are numerous as well as diverse, and all worn brazenly on the film's sleeve. It doesn't matter, as PATROL MEN is easy to get along with. Light humour is unforced; quirky characters are in abundance; the very Britishness of the quiet absurdity on offer is a guilty pleasure. The political undertones of the unpredictable screenplay are just the icing on the cake.

Different from the norm and chock-full of inventive camerawork: all in all, despite an occasionally uneven tone and the odd bum performance, PATROL MEN is an accomplished feature and one that frequently surprises.

The film looks decent in letterboxed widescreen with natural flesh-tones and mildly saturated colour schemes.

English 2.0 audio is also reliable throughout.

The only on-disc extra is a jovial 22-minute video interview with the co-directors. They chat fondly to one another, prompting each other with leading questions and enjoying a good giggle at regular intervals. Early shorts are discussed, as is the fact that they started working together on films in their teenage years, and anecdotes which help illustrate things that can go wrong when filming on no budget. The jokes include a discussion on filming people wanking ... but stick around because PATROL MEN is also discussed eventually, the twosome even musing over what they would've done differently with a better budget.

Although the screener disc provided had no packaging, it seems as though you also get some kind of comic book insert with the retail DVD.

The disc from Crabtree Films opens with an animated main menu page. From there, an animated scene-selection menu allows access to the main feature via 16 chapters.

PATROL MEN was much better than I'd anticipated and is given a credible DVD release from Crabtree Films. It's most definitely worth a look.

Review by Stuart Willis

Released by Crabtree Films
Region 2 - PAL
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review