The second full length film from budding director Giles Borg takes a much darker and diabolical path, but retains a healthy humorous streak. Personally I was quite smitten with the film and have enjoyed it several times, the humour is deathly dark and some of the surreal scenes near the end of the film are executed with a great attention to detail.
John (Joe Anderson) is addicted to gambling, it’s all that he and his friends do together, gamble down the tracks as often as they can and reap the rewards or drown their sorrows as a team, until one fateful day when Stan, their loyal bookie is missing and a blond bombshell is takes his place, this gorgeous stranger turns out to be the “new Stan” (Autumn Federici) who offers the boys good odds on bets they simply can’t refuse. Lured into big payoff bets set by the ever demanding Stan, John is slowly spiraling into a surreal and dank future that seems to be controlled by Stan’s ever growing need for power and control, how long can John keep going until he gets the big win of his dreams?
The film is littered with black comedy, and every scene has two meanings, the obvious and the “Stan” version. Each of the players are so tangled up in lies in order to keep their bets safe and to hide their side bets with Stan. Stan herself is a very interesting character, she doesn’t seem to have to do or say much to encourage people to take on her bets for huge amounts of cash, no matter how personal the stakes get and her Renfield stylised sidekick is a bizarre creature who’s strangeness doesn’t kick in until the end.
John, the main gambling addict really does make some really stupid bets and takes unbelievable and unnecessary chances that often come between him and his partner. Things escalate quickly and some untimely deaths start to occur, random characters keep appearing and it’s soon visible that Stan’s influence is far reaching. At one point John visits his dentist (Billy Zane) who then appears later in the scene that makes the movie, the epic bunny race!
While the film is interesting and had some moments that are very new to cinema, or at least I’ve never seen a man incubate an ostrich egg inside a giant nest on film before.. it does lack in pace and attitude, it could have benefitted from a bit more Guy Ritchie banter, it does utilise his speed up, halt and freeze frame technique but there is no sting in the tail when it comes to character dialogue or interaction. Stan’s character was brilliant in concept but the seductive Mephistophelian presence just wasn’t all that tempting, maybe ` was trying to play it cool, but it she slows down the film and doesn’t add any devilish fire, which it did need. It’s quirky and once the ball is rolling there are some questionable scenes and Joe’s inability to say no causes as much anguish and laughs so it has the ability to motivate some emotion. The movie really does serve up some good surreal cinema and once it tightens it’s grip it’s clear that it’s a modern play on a loose Faustesque story with a very dark and twisted ending.
R – Angel Heart (19),
L – Reasons to sell your soul, A list of devilish bargains, Hopeless gamblers,
A – The Devil is still strong.
5B – Billy Zane, Joe Anderson, Luke Evans