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Film / Population 436

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Population 436 is a 2006 Direct to Video thriller film directed by Michelle MacLaren.

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.

This film contains examples of:

  • 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.
  • 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.