Welcome to Schlarb, Ohio. Home to some of the strangest folks you'd never want to meet. Dickie, a dumpster diver who picks trash for not only himself, but for his fellow townies. Pricey, a young woman who doesn't speak and takes her toy doll everywhere she goes in her stroller. The Licker, a man-child who loves his comics almost as much as he loves to lick. Follow these odd assortments of characters and their fellow weirdo’s, as they try to live what they believe are normal lives.
Much like Ronny's review of "Neato Mosquito", this will be an odd entry into the Film Bizarro database. While some sites has "Townies" labeled as a comedy and a horror flick, at no point is there any horror moments in the movie. To even call it a horror-comedy would be a severe stretch. "Townies" is 100% comedy...A dark-independent-bizarre-experimental-comedy...but a comedy none the less. With a major emphasis on the experimental part, as "Townies" takes a page out of the John Waters filmmaking book and gives a movie that features a large collection of weirdo’s and freaks.
I've read numerous negative reviews and comments regarding the storyline to "Townies", saying that it falls apart and remains pretty incoherent, and there is a good reason for that. There is no story. At least not one in the traditional sense. "Townies" is a movie that's composed of a series of mini-vignettes, so instead of one major storyline with subplots, we follow the lives of the various people who are referred to as townies, who live in Schlarb. Which is where the John Water-esque influence of having a movie filled with eccentric characters comes into play. The characters that are referred to as the townies are a collection of crazies and mentally handicapped who showed up when a mental institution was built. The ones who aren't locked up wander around the city and are considered to be freaks and weirdo’s by Schlarb's "normal" folks. And you by the time the opening credits roll, you will remember all of the characters. From Dickie the garbage picker, down to man-child known only as The Licker (and by his name, you can guess what he does). Which is why "Townies" is sort of an experimental film, because it's doing something fairly different, and that's instead of giving us a story and a couple characters to follow. We get a large collection of oddities that we follow along while they try to live their lives. There's really nothing in the traditional sense of movies and comedies to be found here; it feels closer to a documentary than anything else. There is no story, no emotional development with characters, no lessons to be learned, no closure or a cinematic ending.
For what the movie was going for, it works. You can't help but watch as these very strange people go about the activities that seem normal to them, but are in fact, truly bizarre and as strange as the folks themselves. With Dickie, who has never had a girlfriend before, finds the body of a woman and takes her home where he builds a bond with her (eventually leading to some man-on-corpse lovin'), with his friend Crazy Connie going along for the ride. The main problem though is that this really is intended to be a comedy but it's pretty sparse on the humor. To be fair though, comedy is always a tough thing to gauge and is really based on each person and what they find funny, in comparison to something like horror which is either scary or it's not. And there are some genuine funny moments in the film, mostly coming from the films totally un-PC nature. But it seems like it was really counting on these bizarre characters doing bizarre things to sell the humor, and unfortunately, it falls flat. Even with a short runtime, it becomes one scene after the other of eccentric and over-the-top characters doing something strange, by the end it's not only extremely repetitive but also fairly dull. I'll give Wayne Harold credit for a movie that was literally a one-man project outside the cast, and for willing to go out on a limb and attempt something that was different. In the end; "Townies" doesn't really have the humor that it needs to help carry it.