Population 436 (2006) __LINK__
Steve Kady, a US Census Bureau enumerator, is sent to the remote and seemingly idyllic village of Rockwell Falls, North Dakota, to interview residents concerning the population. On the way to Rockwell Falls, he is distracted by a woman falling off a horse and his vehicle hits a pothole and bursts two tires. He is eventually picked up by Bobby Caine, the Sheriff's Deputy, who drives him into Rockwell Falls and helps him find a place to stay.
Population 436 (2006)
During his stay, Kady notices a number of disturbing things about the town, including its people acting strangely. He begins to have eerie dreams. There is also talk of the "fever" from townsfolk, several of whom treat him as though he was not just a visitor, but a permanent new resident. His research reveals that the town's population has remained at exactly 436 for over 100 years. People who try to leave Rockwell Falls seem to meet with bizarre and deadly accidents or just vanish, which the residents believe to be the work of God.
After stumbling upon some books on biblical numerology, Kady realizes that the townspeople attach mystical importance to the number 436 and are willing to go to extreme lengths to keep the population at that number. Anyone who expresses a desire to leave is treated for the "fever" by Dr. Greaver with electroshock therapy. It gradually becomes apparent to Kady that the residents of Rockwell Falls have no intention of allowing him to leave.
Jeremy Sisto: Steve Kady works for the census department who is sent to Rockwell Falls to take up on why the town has had the same population for almost a century. Once in the town he starts to find himself known by everyone in the town but ends up finding out not everything is what it seems. Jeremy is solid in this role but like most of the film is slightly lacklustre.
Jeremy Sisto (Thirteen, TV's "Six Feet Under") and Limp Bizkit lead singer Fred Durst (Be Cool) star in this thrilling story about a U.S. census taker who is assigned to assess the population in a remote mountain community. The census taker becomes trapped in this prison-like town full of "golden rules" (that no one ever breaks) that doesn't allow its population to drop below or exceed exactly 436 citizens, a number in accordance with "God's Law." He eventually learns that NO ONE is ever allowed to leave Rockwell Falls and that the town citizens will do whatever it takes to maintain the status quo. After fending off a lobotomy and pretending to go along with the program, the U.S. census taker eventually tries to escape. Will the population finally be altered, or will the story of Rockwell Falls live on? Director/producer of TV's long-running science fiction thriller "X-Files," Michelle MacLaren (TV's "Night Stalker," "Without A Trace") directs this bone-chilling film. The people of Rockwell Falls refer to their town of perfect balance as "the most perfect place on Earth" - where numbers rule the universe, everybody's watching, divine order is law and God punishes those that are lacking in faith in order to save the people from themselves.
But in Rockwell Falls there are no mutant cannibals, alien pods, or masked murderers keeping the population on check. That is, rather than to resort to extraterrestrial beings or other supernatural entities as most recent horror films do, Population 436 merely portrays a group of people with slightly different customs than the rest of us. As a matter of fact, the highlight of Population 436 is that in a very restrained manner, it makes the sociable and God loving folks of Rockwell Falls appear secretive, creepy, and perhaps even lethal. In a subtle way, their overt friendliness feels more threatening than comforting.
My wife and I have a family ranch in Montana where we spend a lot of our vacation time. It's near this dinky little town with a population of 96. It was 96 decades ago and it is still 96 today. I laugh every time we drive though town at the "population sign that never changes". I take photos of it once in a while as a goof.
This is basically the same movie as the Wicker Man with just enough different to be "inspired by" rather than a blatant rip-off. Jeremy Sisto of May and Wrong Turn fame is a census worker who comes to a small town and discovers that the population is 436 and it always has been...bum bum bum. Then you get the whole outsider confused by local ways who then tries to foist worldly morays on a small insular community etc.
When Steve Kady, a Census Bureau employee, ends up stranded in the small town of Rockwell Falls, population 436, he soon comes to realize that the seemingly idyllic town hides a dark secret attached...Read more to how their population never wavered from 436 residents over the course of a century.
When Steve Kady, a Census Bureau employee, ends up stranded in the small town of Rockwell Falls, population 436, he soon comes to realize that the seemingly idyllic town hides a...Read more dark secret attached to how their population never wavered from 436 residents over the course of a century.
We begin with a scene of a woman giving birth alternating with a high-speed police chase. The cars are leaving Rockwell Falls, population 436. The truck rolls off the road and explodes just as the new baby is born back in town. Credits roll.
Population 436 tells the story of a Census worker visiting the small, rural town of Rockwell Falls to investigate the cause of it's never changing population. The southern town is self-governed and is almost completely cut off from the rest of the world. The census worker finds it's inhabitants seem brainwashed and believe they're living in 'The Most Perfect Place On Earth'. Unlucky for him, once you enter You Cannot Leave! Upon knowing the plot, you instantly realize this movie has the potential to be really bad. Surprisingly, it turns out being a lot better than expected. Being a low budget film, I really like their approach on making it. Its not over-the-top southern or confederate like you may suspect. The concept is more authentic and gloomy. It has a certain kind of Stephen King aura to it. And although it's not a Horror movie, there is a pretty awesome death scene in it that sticks out. The story has nice structure, it easily sustained my attention the entire way thru. The acting comes off very believable, even from Fred Durst (yep, Mr. limp bizkit is in it). And I liked how they did an unpredictable ending. As this was a straight to DVD film, it flies largely under the radar. Which made it an awesome movie to discover. If you havnt seen it, definitely check it out.
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.
For over 100 years the population of Rockwell Falls has remained at 436, not one more or one less and it has eventually come to the attention of the US Census Bureau who send researcher Steve Kady (Jeremy Sisto) to investigate what is going on in the isolated community. Kady almost doesn't make as he is distracted by a woman falling from a horse as he passes a sign for the town's border and his car suffers a couple of flats thanks to two large potholes. But as Kady starts investigating into why Rockwell Falls' population has never changed he not only finds himself becoming attracted to Courtney Lovett (Charlotte Sullivan), the daughter of the woman who is putting him up, but also uncovers the sinister reason why there has never been no more or less than 436 residents causing him to fear for his life.
Some reviews of "Population 436" mention it appears like an extended episode of "The Twilight Zone" others say "The Outer Limits" and I can see that whilst also seeing a bit of M. Night Shyamalan about it with this isolated village who keep themselves to themselves and have this mystery surrounding a static population. And it does a good job of enticing us in the opening scene as we see how at the time of a baby being born a resident ends up killed in a road accident, coincidence or something sinister maybe.
The thing is that whilst the idea is good with the mystery of the static population combined with the locals curious behaviour being intriguing once we get the set up and the mystery being unravelled it starts to struggle. It is a case that "Population 436" probably would make for a good episode of "The Twilight Zone" but feels slow and drawn out when it is trying to make it through to 90 minutes. It makes it uneven as there will be something creepy or amusing such as a sweet old woman's response to Kady saying he will be out of town in a day or two but that will be followed by a scene of Kady just walking.
Census investigator Steve Kady (Sisto) is sent to the reclusive town of Rockwell Falls, where the population has remained unchanged at 436 people for more than 100 years. The town seems idyllic although excess residents have a tendency to succumb to a strange fever. Can Steve stay alive long enough to figure out what's really going on? Sisto plays the horror straight and Limp Bizkit frontman Durst is amiable as the town law. 92m/C DVD . CA Jeremy Sisto, Fred Durst, R.H. Thomson, Peter Outerbridge, Charlotte Sullivan, David Ames, David Fox; D: Michelle Maxwell MacLaren; W: Michael Kingston; C: Thomas Burstyn. VIDEO
Steve Kady (Jeremy Sisto) is a census taker who is sent to a small town called Rockwell Falls, North Dakota. This town seems like the best place on Earth but for some reason, the town's population has always stayed at 436.
Action Prologue: Ray's death and Kathy's giving birth.
Arc Number: 436, the number of people in the town.
Be Yourself: Steve's advice to Bobby.
Birth-Death Juxtaposition: Ray dies in a car explosion and Kathy's baby is born at the same time.
Cell Phones Are Useless: Steve's cellphone has no reception when he's in Rockwell Falls.
The Chosen One: Non-heroic example: The festival host is clearly treated as this, and the woman seen to be chosen as one is seemingly willing to do her duty. It's just that her duty is to be executed to keep the population at 436.
The Cuckoolander Was Right: Looks like the town is mysterious.
Did Not Get the Girl: Steve and Courtney do not end up together due to Courtney being lobotomized.
Disappeared Dad: Ray, Amanda's father, died at the exact same time of her birth.
Distracted by the Sexy: Sort of. Steve was looking at a girl on a horse, then she fell off the horse.
Every Car Is a Pinto: Ray's car explodes almost immediately.
Fatal Family Photo: Steve's photo of his family becomes this when he dies at the end of the film.
Fate Worse than Death: The fate of those who are subjected to a lobotomy to keep them from leaving Rockwell Falls, including Courtney at the end.
Forged Message: Steve's letter to the census Bureau.
Glasses Pull: The sheriff does this when he is told that Steve is from the Census Bureau.
Good with Numbers: Steve has a talent for this, as befitting a Census Bureau researcher.
The Hero Dies: Steve dies at the end of the film. Averted in an alternate ending that has him narrowly survive.
Horsing Around: A horse throws off a woman at the beginning of the film.
Hot Pursuit: The police officer engages in this at the beginning when he chases Ray.
Lobotomy: Anyone who expresses a desire to leave Rockwell Falls is treated for the "fever", and in extreme cases, subjected to this. In the end, this is what they do to Courtney.
The Lost Lenore: Steve's wife and daughter who died in an accident.
Lottery of Doom: Rockwell Falls organizes a lottery to choose the next harvest host.
Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: It's never made fully clear whether there's something supernatural going on in the town or it's just run by human fanatics.
Not in Kansas Anymore: Steve says this word for word once he arrives at Rockwell Falls.
Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here: Subverted. Rockwell Falls seems rather quiet, but its inhabitants think that they owe this to keeping the population at the same number (436), and do some nasty things to maintain the status quo.
Plot-Driven Breakdown: Steve's vehicle hits a pothole and bursts two tires, which is what drives him to Rockwell Falls.
Population Control: The townspeople of Rockwell Falls attach a mystical importance to the number 436 and are willing to go to extreme lengths to keep the population at exactly that number, including executing surplus residents.
Scary Amoral Religion: The people of Rockwell Falls have a nebulous belief system that combines Biblical numerology with ritual sacrifices to keep their population at exactly 436.
Screaming Birth: Kathy gives one at the very beginning of the movie.
There Are No Coincidences: The locals don't believe that Mrs. Syde got sick for no reason on the same day that Steve came to the town.