Review: “Population 436” (2006)

I was cruising along Amazon Prime Video, which is totally worth the price for the movies, not to mention the free shipping, looking for something to watch when I ran across this one. I thought the premise was decent, but it also had Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit in it. Not sure if this was going to be good or a train wreck, I decided to watch it. Because, you know, train wrecks can be fun. 🙂

Steve Kady is a U.S. Census Bureau employee sent to the tiny town of Rockwell Falls to determine why the population of the town has remained unchanged, at 436 of course, since 1860. Just inside the city limits, he hits a huge pothole, giving him two flat tires. He’s assisted by Deputy Caine, played by Durst, who reluctantly takes Kady to town to get settled in while a tow truck is sent for his vehicle.

The longer Kady is in town doing his job and research, the more questions he has about the town, which its residents consider the most perfect place on earth. Even more so, the residents begin acting odder and odder, especially as Kady begins learning more about why the population of the town has been unchanged.

Of course, there’s the obligatory romance storyline, which is actually germane to the plot, but it feels natural and unforced. As you would also expect, that romantic subplot creates some tension within the town, since Kady is an outsider, and a town of such a limited population has only so many people you can put a ring on.

The plot builds, with some shock value thrown in to amp up the tension, until it reaches the climax and wrap-up. So much of the ending was easy to see coming, including the clean-up from the big moments. And there were definitely unanswered questions. But that didn’t ruin the whole movie.

Overall, I thought this was a decent movie. It was categorized as horror, but it felt was more like a thriller than a horror movie, or maybe at the very least soft horror. It dances around some possible evil/supernatural foundations and never really answers that question. But that’s fine with me because, as anyone who’s read my writing knows, I’m not opposed to ambiguous endings at all.

As noted, it did feel predictable at times, but not so much that I felt compelled to shut it off. And hey, Durst did a decent job, although his character didn’t have a ton of depth. I don’t know if this is one I would watch in regular rotation because the suspense surrounding the unchanged population can only let that cat out of the bag once. But it was definitely worth checking out.

Rating: Three Stars (Out of Five Possible)

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