Friday, 12 July 2013

Stitches and Grabbers (2012) - AN Irish horror double bill

Stitches (2012)
Stitches 2012 movie poster.jpg
Directed by Conor McMahon
Starring Ross Noble, Tommy Knight, Gemma-Leah Devereux
Irish horror has had its up and downs. I think that there has not been a truly great Irish horror director since John Boorman, and even he's British-born. Glenn McQuaid's films have been interesting and there have been various international films made here. Neil Jordan's films are too artsy-fartsy and the likes of Grabbers seem to play it up for paddywhackery. This is a slightly restrained variant on the latter.
Director McMahon, previously behind Dead Meat (2004), a film that should have been called "Culchie-Zombies In Leitrim", as that is what it was exactly. Stitches is a comedy-horror. Now, I have to say, I like comedy-horrors IF they are good. Young Frankenstein, Shaun of the Dead, even Barry McKenzie Holds His Own, but there's a particular knock. For each one of these, there's a Scary Movie, a Boy Eats Girl and a National Lampoon's Class Reunion.
The plot concerns Stitches/Richard Grindle (Geordie comedian/BBC panel show regular Noble in his acting debut), a children's entertainer/clown composed out of the worst features from Reece Shearsmith's Psychoville character Mr. Jelly and amped up to a 100, who is an inexplicably Tyneside clown in Ireland who is killed in an accident by a group of particularly bold children.
Six/seven years, the leader of the kids (Sarah Jane Adventures' Tommy Knight, an inexplicably English Home Counties boy in Ireland) is hosting a big teen party, only for Stitches to come back for revenge.
The plot has elements of I Know What You Did Last Summer, Stephen King's It!, Nightmare On Elm Street and every teen movie ever. The romantic leads, Knight and Devereux are appealing and likeable, but everything else isn't.
The supporting teen actors are dreadful, all D4 ways, and almost winsome portentousness in their little heads that makes you want to see them suffer. Sadly, the humour in the film doesn't work, the deaths try to go for an Elm Street-type dream logic, but they happen in reality. Noble is a slight OTT, almost reminiscent of Tim James in Funnyman (1994), with his Northern (Tyneside not Yorkshire) accent and wisecracks like a Newcastle Krueger.
It's unfunny, feels longer than it is, and only really of recommendation if those want to see Irish teens slaughtered rather than Americans or Canadians.  

Stitches (2012)
Directed by Jon Wright. Written by Kevin Lehane.
Starring Richard Coyle, Russell Tovey, Ruth Bradley, David Pearse

From Anglo-Irish director Jon Wright (of tubby-schoolboy-goes-slasher British horror Tormented (2009)), this is a spin on Tremors with elements of Island Of Terror/Night Of The Big Heat (1967), that takes its 'original' concept from 1986's Blue Monkey - basically "Get Drunk to Survive Alien Invasion". Its characters, a veteran Garda (Coyle, from Steven Moffat's shitecom Coupling, and doing a very convincing Irish accent) and a Dublin rookie (Ruth Bradley, who gets under my skin, don't ask me why, she just irritates me) find an alien and a local British scientist, Dr. Smith (Tovey, showing his credentials as a potential Doctor in Doctor Who, and the film's best performance) doing research. The aliens - cephalopods/squid-like Cthuloid monsters are allergic to alcohol, so the locals and the Garda and Dr. Smith (no, not  him from Lost In Space) have a lock-in in the only pub.
The film plays up stereotypes, not quite in tbe scathing way Father Ted did, which did this thing a million times better in "Night of the Nearly Dead". Coyle is very good, Bradley serviceable, Tovey excelling in his role as a scientist who when drunk goes to Brian Blessed-levels of extreme) but the Irish character actors cast are lost, playing it up slightly too much, and the humour gets lost. TheCGI is okay, but I never really felt a CGI monster's presence, bar Mars Attacks! (1996) and this film definitely is lacking.

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