"Ain't nobody choose to live here." Hence, the eponymous title, Badsville, a rival-gang drama set outside of Los Angeles. Written by the film's two stars, the story follows gang leader Wink (Ian McLaren) and messed-up best pal Benny (Benjamin Barrett) in a slickly told tale of friendship, familial ties, heartbreak and hard knocks. Director April Mullen keeps a firm hand on a violent drama where rivalries split a town, leaving inhabitants two choices: hide and stay fearful – or get mean, and even. Wink has chosen the latter. But then he meets a girl, becomes a big brother to a kid named Sammy whose mom is a drug addict, and finally wants out. It sounds cliché, but Mullen propels the story along, with McLaren and Barrett superb as lifelong friends who would kill for each other, but whose loyalty frays in the end. Robert Knepper is evil personified as Mr. Gavin, the ruthless patriarch of the rival gang, the Aces. Badsville's an ugly place, but the acting/directing chops in this indie film brighten it considerably.
Badsville opens Jan. 26 in Toronto.