Thursday, April 5, 2012

Movie review: BURKE AND HARE (2010)

I pranged my knee whilst exercising yesterday (or, more likely, during yoga the night before) so I took today off and watched...

BURKE AND HARE, directed by John Landis and starring Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis respectively, which is a black comedy based on the true story of two poor Irishmen in 1800s Scotland who found out that the medical colleges in Edinburgh paid very, very well for fresh corpses. They’re the source of the term “Burke’d” wherein a victim is suffocated by smothering and compression of the chest (if the lungs and diaphragm can’t expand, they can’t take in enough oxygen and it’s all down hill from there.) The film also stars Isla Fisher, Jessica Hynes, and Tim Curry (whom I call Timmykins because I love him so and he doesn’t know me.)

Pardon my American, but how in the world did John Landis fuck this up?

Seriously, you have an amazing cast supported by people like Bill Bailey, Stephen Merchant, and Ronnie Corbett and not one damn laugh in the entire film. Is it the fault of the screenwriters, Piers Ashworth and Nick Moorcroft? Yes, in part. Making a comedy out of the true story of a pair of murderers who racked up a total of seventeen lives taken is dicey at best. I think they needed at least one more pass on the script. And, how do you end a comedy where the one character you want everyone to like has to die? (This isn’t a spoiler unless you know nothing about the West Port Murders...oh, wait...)

John Landis knows comedy (Animal House, Blues Brothers, Trading Places). He knows horror (An American Werewolf in London, Innocent Blood, Blues Brothers 2000.) He knows how to combine them. Subject matter aside, comedy and horror are not that different and both types of films rely on timing to work. Jokes were rushed or cut too short, like the director was embarrassed by what was going on on-screen when he sat next to his editor in post. Or, even worse, one joke was held a little too long (at least, when compared to the rest of the flick.)

The film was, surprisingly, shot on 35mm, and I couldn’t be more disappointed with how it looked. It was blown out and weirdly graded and the vignettes on the actors faces (used to isolate them so as to make them brighter) were painfully visible.

All in all, a terrible disappointment.

The trailer (the worst trailer ever y/y?):

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