Toronto International Film Festival

Director Allan Moyle has described "Weirdsville" as a Canadian "Trainspotting," which is a bit of wishful thinking. It's true that this picture takes a slightly fractured, surreal look at a group of stoners, but it lacks the inventiveness and biting edge of Danny Boyle's landmark movie. While Moyle's offering has some quirky pleasures, it seems unlikely to achieve either major cult status or boxoffice success.

The plot interweaves a number of discordant plot strands. Dexter (Scott Speedman) and Royce (Wes Bentley) are druggies and low-level dealers who owe money to their drug boss, Omar (Raoul Bhaneja). They think they might be able to get out of the hole when they learn about a stash of money secreted in a safe belonging to a local businessman, but before they can bag the loot they have to contend with the apparent overdose of their pal Mattie (Taryn Manning). While trying to bury the body, they run into a bumbling gang of satanists crying for blood. Mattie revives unexpectedly, but the satanists target her as their next human sacrifice. Soon the chase is on, abetted by a band of midgets.

While some of the incidents in Willem Wennekers' script are bizarrely funny, director Moyle ("Pump Up the Volume") fails to provide the energy necessary to keep us involved. The film jumps around following the misadventures of the characters, and the whole enterprise comes to be frenetic and convoluted rather than pleasingly impudent. One problem is that drug humor has lost much of its novelty by now. On the other hand, the satanists are an amusing troupe, with their clean-cut appearance belying their taste for torture. Jordan Prentice also has some tartly funny moments as a height-challenged security officer.

In fact, the cast is generally better than the material. Speedman and Bentley, who haven't quite been able to parlay their good looks and youthful promise into successful careers, demonstrate more charm incarnating these grungy characters than they have sometimes shown in blander heroic parts. Speedman plays the brainier and more responsible of the pals, while Bentley is his clueless sidekick. Both of them relish their walk on the seamy side. Manning, who made a strong impression in "Hustle & Flow," is wasted here, but Greg Bryk and Maggie Castle as the two earnest devil-worshippers bring a lot of flair to their loopy roles.

Technically, the film is fairly ragged, and it tries too hard to make a virtue of its kinkiness. Plotting is far too haphazard to hold the audience's attention. Although this macabre comedy has diverting touches, it fails to add up to a satisfying whole.

Magnolia Pictures
ThinkFilm, Shoreline Entertainment, Darius Films
Director: Allan Moyle
Screenwriter: Willem Wennekers
Producer: Nicholas Tabarrok
Executive producers: Michael Baker, Morris Ruskin, Perry Zimel
Director of photography: Adam Swica
Production designer: Oleg Savytski
Music: John Rowley
Costume designer: Alex Kavanagh
Editor: Michael Doherty
Dexter: Scott Speedman
Royce: Wes Bentley
Mattie: Taryn Manning
Jason Taylor: Matt Frewer
Abel: Greg Bryk
Seamus: Dax Ravina
Treena: Maggie Castle
Omar: Raoul Bhaneja
Garry: James McQuade
Martin: Jordan Prentice
Running time -- 87 minutes
MPAA rating: R