UK Release Date: 30th July 2018
Runtime: 85 minutes
Director: Christian James
Writer: Daniel O’Reilly, Nick Nevern, Dan Palmer
Starring: Daniel O’Reilly, Danielle Harold, Stu Bennett, Lauren Socha, Steven Berkoff, Vas Blackwood, Ewen MacIntosh
Synopsis: When he is imprisoned for a minor assault, a bloke is outraged to find himself sent to an eerie, secluded prison where inmates disappear with alarming regularity.
Dapper Laughs is back, sort of. Four years after he indefinitely retired his troubling lad persona – and three years after ill-advised comeback show The Res-Erection – comedian Daniel O’Reilly is making his movie debut with vampire comedy Fanged Up. O’Reilly has a writing credit on the movie, along with his starring role, and the entire thing is calibrated as a star vehicle for the former Vine personality. As you’d expect, it’s a prime example of the geezer movie that is prevalent at the low-budget end of British cinema right now. Equally unsurprisingly, it’s a long way from the horror-comedy heights of Shaun of the Dead or Zombieland.
O’Reilly plays swaggering wide boy Jimmy Ragsdale – a name so Cockney he might as well have been known as Blokey McLondon. He’s an arrogant scumbag who lurks around the club where he works trying to pick up women by claiming he runs the place. A fight breaks out and Jimmy finds himself arrested. To his surprise, he is transferred directly to an incredibly creepy, secluded prison presided over by Ms Renfield (Lauren Socha) and elderly governor Payne (Steven Berkoff). Jimmy and his intimidating Russian cellmate Victor (Stu Bennett) become trapped in an ancient conspiracy involving the powers that be, with prison nurse Katie (Danielle Harold), who of course is also Jimmy’s ex, along for the ride.
Fanged Up deserves credit in the sense that it’s absolutely not as bad as it could have been. There are only occasional flashes of the Dapper Laughs persona, whether it’s a reference to Harold as a “nine out of ten belter” or the fact the opening scenes are set at a place called Club Moist. It doesn’t help that O’Reilly is far from the greatest actor, delivering some of the script’s hideously awkward wordplay with the sense that his heart isn’t really in it and failing to even make a glance out of a car window look convincing.
Thankfully, those around him are able to elevate Fanged Up. Harold, still probably most famous for Eastenders, is very good in a role that is never quite written to maximise her talents and Socha manages to bring a surprising sense of aggressive fun to her portrayal of the psychotic warden, even if her accent choice seems to veer almost at random between her natural Derbyshire tones and something more akin to the Queen’s English. The true standout, though, is former WWE performer Stu Bennett, who is a delight as Victor. His accent is only moderately more convincing than Socha’s, but his character gets many of the best lines, outshining O’Reilly in the areas in which he should be at his best.
There are enormous structural problems with the movie, which can’t seem to decide on whether it wants to play slow-build or go for a breakneck action pace. The result is a very messy story and a third act that seems to drag, rather than amping up the violence. It’s a shame that this falls away so entirely as there are a handful of very good jump scares in the movie and the deliciously over-the-top gore fountains created by each vanquished vampire could have been used to far more entertaining effect.
So Fanged Up feels like a somewhat missed opportunity for Daniel O’Reilly to reposition himself as a star of movie comedy. It has flashes of real fun throughout and a couple of standout performances. However, the most notable problem is that everyone involved is hamstrung by a cliché-ridden script that is at least two or three drafts away from being workable.
Nothing available for review.
Pop or Poop?
If you’re a fan of the current run of super-blokey DVD releases in the UK, then Fanged Up will likely be a favourite. It’s marginally better than many of the gangster flicks that fill the market, with some solid comedy and well-executed jump scares, but it suffers from a script that has awful Christmas cracker-level wordplay gags and foul-mouthed lad banter of the saddest kind. With a bit of a polish, this could have had real bite.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.
Fanged Up is available on DVD in the UK from Monday courtesy of Altitude.