FrightFest 2019 Review: The Barge People Sinks Under the Weight of its Nostalgia

Amazonian lagoons, Chicago sewer systems, Korean rivers, and the open ocean: all have been beset by submarine monsters with a hankering for human flesh. But until retro-styled man-fish-freakout The Barge People, Britain’s canals had yet to be given the genre treatment.

Directed by Charlie Steeds and penned by Christopher Lombard, this is a fish-out-of-water story in more ways than one. We follow sisters Kat (Kate Davies-Speak) and Sophie (Natalie Martins) and their respective partners Mark (Mark McKirdy) and Ben (Matt Swales), four well-to-do thirty-something city dwellers who hire a barge and set sail down the Kennet and Avon Canal in search of respite from modern-day distractions only to fall foul of a few of the area’s less hospitable denizens.

Britain’s waterways, rendered here in gorgeous golds and greens by cinematographer Michael Lloyd, are a fertile setting for fear and loathing. The narrowboat locale isolates the characters threefold—in a confined environment,

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