Tennessee Gothic is a horror comedy and feature debut from writer/director Jeff Wedding, based on the short story American Gothic by horror writer, Ray Russell. Caleb (William Ryan Watson) and his dad, Paw (Victor Hollingsworth) are a couple of good ol’ boys living on a farm in Tennessee when one day they find Sylvia (Jackie Kelly) a beautiful young woman who says that she has been attacked and hiding from a bad man.
Instantly taking to her charm, the two men take her in, feed her, clothe her and give her a place to stay. Soon Sylvia is just like one of the family, that is until Caleb gives in to his carnal urges and soon Sylvia and Caleb are doing the one thing that any young couple do most often.
However, there’s something a little strange about Sylvia and soon both the men on the farm give in to their temptations whilst around Sylvia. Even when the local preacher, Reverend Simms (Wynn Reichert) arrives to take Sylvia to an orphanage, she manages to use her ‘charms’ to persuade him to change his mind.
The film is described as a horror comedy, but for those expecting the script to be full of funny one-liners or hilarious gross out scenes then they may be left a little disappointed as Tennessee Gothic’s takes its comedic inspirations from a time well gone past. There may be a smile here and there but the tone of the film doesn’t really deliver as a comedy simply because – there aren’t enough jokes.
The problem is that Tennessee Gothic wants to recreate a type of comedy from a long time ago and forgets that its modern audience may not be as interested. Putting it plainly, Tennessee Gothic sets the tone as more of a Seventies sex comedy rather than a modern look at how men can be so easily lead by their loins and it makes most of the film feel tedious and outdated.
As the film reaches its final act the tone changes completely and as a full-blown horror, this segment succeeds but is too little too late as there is barely any of this in the rest of the film so the sudden shift feels jarring.
Audiences who may have not experienced the kinds of sex comedies that Tennessee Gothic evokes may even be a little bored by this point, so to suddenly give them what they were hoping for so late in the game may be off putting.
Saying all that though, there are moments to enjoy and the soundtrack is great with some songs that really set the mood. It just would be a little better if there was a bit more horror to fill the gaps where there are supposed to be jokes.
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