Double Date (15)
UK 2017 89 mins Dir: Benjamin Barfoot Cast: Danny Morgan, Georgia Groome, Michael Socha, Kelly Wenham
The murky depths of the low-budget end of the British horror industry are crawling with generic slashers that only a fanboy could love. But just occasionally, a gem emerges. Double Date is not that movie. As a horror comedy, it isn’t in the same league as Edgar Wright’s calling card, Shaun of the Dead. But this laddish romp does boast sufficient style and energy to suggest that first-time feature director Benjamin Barfoot has a bright future ahead of him.
We meet sisters Lulu (Georgia Groome) and Kitty (Kelly Wenham) enjoying a bloodbath at their sprawling country abode. Nothing the film subsequently has to offer quite matches the aplomb with which Kitty stabs her date to death in an upstairs bedroom, incongruously soundtracked by the ’80s Yazoo hit, Only You. “You done yours?” she enquires matter-of-factly of her less bloodthirsty sibling upon returning to the sitting room. Elsewhere, chubby loser Jim (Morgan) and his cocksure dickhead pal Alex (Socha) are doing the Inbetweeners-lite bantering thing in a bar. Sweet-natured Jim’s just been dumped by his girlfriend before he could even get his end away, so Alex pledges to help him pop his cherry before his imminent 30th birthday. Enter the psycho sisters, who now require a virgin’s blood for some ill-defined occult ceremony.
Although Double Date is never quite as funny as it ought to be, the lumpy plotting does deliver a few good laughs, including a bizarre detour into an excruciating birthday party organised for Jim by his devout Christian folks. Reassuringly, it also conforms to one of the fundamental rules of the horror movie: no sharp object is ever introduced to a plot without being deployed later. Despite a late use of dodgy prosthetics that whisks us back to the ’80s straight-to-video era, Barfoot makes the most of the modest budget at his disposal and has fun intercutting between the ladies (“Syringe, chloroform, knife”) and lads (“Breath, condoms, shaved your balls?”) as they prepare for their night out. The cast contribute fine if rather broad performances with well-tuned comic timing – though one can’t help worrying about writer/star Danny Morgan, as he masochistically visits serial misery and humiliation upon his character, who’s repeatedly dubbed a “ginger fatty”. Still, the soundtrack by Swedish psychedelicists Goat makes a pleasant change from the usual lazy jolts and crashes, even if it’s hard to imagine a real world club where these barking mad masked Scandinavians would share a double bill with portly London grime MC Big Narstie. Wait for the DVD, but watch out for what Barfoot does next.