Although anything by the creators of Shaun of the Dead is potentially of great interest, their new horror-comedy The World’s End is disappointingly slapdash and a bit short on the laughs. The movie opens with aging bad-boy Gary King (Simon Pegg) cajoling his four best mates from high school into a beer-soaked reunion. The plan is to return to their hometown to finally complete the elaborate pub-crawl that ended so ignominiously for them 20 years earlier. A very bad idea, as it turns out.
Unkempt and unshaven, motor-mouth Gary has remnants of his youthful panache but is mostly an immature jerk – so much so that his friends, who have all long-since become responsible adults, are ready to abandon the boozy ne’er do well after quaffing only four pints. But then they discover that the town is populated by replicant robots. Needless to say it’s soon a case of man versus machine as End upshifts from you-can’t-go-home-again bittersweet nostalgia to an apocalyptic scrap.
It’s easy to want to like this movie: at its core are five decent actors playing characters who are having a collective mid-life crisis that is funny and occasionally touching. But all the sci-fi stuff that drives the plot is just silliness that doesn’t go anywhere, leading to a movie with throwaway gags and nothing much on its mind (with Shaun, the movie began with the droll idea that the citizens of London were already a bit zombiefied even before the undead starting their chomping). And although Gary is supposed to be a lovable rascal, you’re mostly rooting for one of his mates to dump a pint of ale on his annoying fat head.
The World’s End continues at the Odeon, SilverCity and Westshore
Kill, And Kill Again
The mayhem is much more gruesome in You’re Next, a diabolically clever slasher flick that takes the home-invasion genre and kicks it up several notches. It’s a couple’s 35th wedding anniversary, and they’re celebrating at their remote summerhouse with four adult children and various spouses and partners. During dinner a crossbow bolt shatters a window and ends up in the middle of someone’s forehead. Shock turns to horror as these terrified folk soon realize that there are maniacs out there with animal masks on their faces and butchery on their minds. And so it goes, with the body count – and the screams – steadily increasing.
What could have been just a better-than-average slice of slaughter-porn suddenly gets interesting when one of the guests with an unusual survivalist background proves very resourceful when it comes to fighting back. After one of the bad guys has his skull pulped to grey jelly by an oversize meat tenderizer, the movie unexpectedly tilts from massacre to fair fight – one with a generous helping of plot twists.
It’s probably impossible to really scare audiences these days but Next comes pretty close, thanks to the director’s ability to both manipulate and surprise the audience. Declining to wallow in excessive sadism, the script uses standard horror tropes in fresh ways, and also adds an impressively pitch-black sense of humour to several scenes. Not to all tastes of course, but splatter fans will have a shockingly fine time with this anything-but-peaceful visit to the country.
You’re Next continues at the Empire 6 & SilverCity
With an epic pub-crawl as the plot line for World’s End, let’s limit ourselves to one epic beer: Dark Matter, by local brewing icon Sean Hoyne. Okay, maybe it’s not exactly one of the great mysteries of astrophysics, but this Dark Matter is an impressive ale indeed, one that combines aspects of a stout, a porter, and a brown ale. There is heft here, but delicacy too, alongside flavours of mocha, caramel, and a hint of chocolate and coffee. Yum!