Dead Babies

dir-scr William Marsh
with Paul Bettany, Olivia Williams, Katy Carmichael, Christian Solimeno, Charlie Condou, Alexandra Gilbreath, Andy Nyman, William Marsh, Hayley Carr, Kris Marshall, Elaine Ives-Cameron, David Soloman
release 26.Jan.01
Redbus 00/UK 1h45 1 out of 5 stars
Based on Martin Amis' blackly comic novel, this is one of the most unwatchable films in recent memory. The main problem is that it's filmed with none of the subtlety or skill required for this kind of thing (see American Psycho). It centres on a debauched weekend in a British manor house, where a group of misfit university friends--an erudite control freak (Bettany) and his loving wife (Gilbreath), a lowlife womaniser (Solimeno) and his doubting girlfriend (Williams), an easy good-time girl (Carmichael), a tooth-obsessed nutcase (Condou) and a hideous fat goombah (Nyman). Into the mix come three strange Americans (Marsh, Carr and Marshall) with a suitcase full of designer drugs. And a murderous internet cult is on the loose.

This style-intensive, manic, shambolic film devolves from school reunion comedy to drug trip farce to slasher whodunit, all the while trying to convince us that it's hilariously funny. Which it isn't unless you like fart jokes (but don't for a second think this is a juvenile comedy). It's so obnoxious and rude that you quickly lose all interest in the characters and just long for it to be over with. The acting isn't bad--if you can spot it amid the frantic camera work and crashing edits. But what rising stars like Bettany or Williams are doing here is anyone's guess. I'm sure there's some sort of satirical commentary going on about society, but it's all lost amid the carnage. Perhaps actor-writer-director Marsh has some talent, but he really needs to find a film that's worth making before he picks up a camera again. This one deserves to be forgotten, and the sooner the better.

[18--strong themes and situations, language, drugs, nudity, violence] 23.Jan.01

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2001 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall