6.5 out of 10
Release Date: 23 July 2010
Director: Nick Whitfield
Cast: Ed Gaughan, Andrew Buckley, Jason Isaacs, Paprika Steen and Tuppence Middleton
Writer: Nick Whitfield
A true original, Skeletons rattles its way across the screen with so much invention to spare I found it almost intimidating. Here’s a film which has created it’s own universe and it’s own rules were the macabre and occult are part of every day life. Two ‘exorcists’ (ED GAUGHAN and ANDREW BUCKLEY) are hired to expurgate skeletons from people’s wardrobes where standard counselling or hippy dippy methods have failed. Carrying out their tasks with an almost Victorian style precision and dead pan delivery, they unearth some uncomfortable truths for better or worse for a string of couples. Gaughan’s exorcist is secretly addicted to a form of divining called Glow Chasing which could severely incapacitate him. Buckley is his concerned and more straight laced partner who is rightfully worried about the bearing his addiction will have on their abilities. Their next assignment which takes up the bulk of the story is not so straight forward. A mother (PAPRIKA STEEN – FESTEN) has got frustrated with digging holes searching for her lost husband, so has called in the experts to unravel the mystery. A mute daughter (TUPPENCE MIDDLETON – CLEANSKIN) who also shares the duos psychic gifts may have the key to the mystery but obviously, she ain’t saying sh*t. So what happens when a skeleton doesn’t want to be found?
It takes a little while to understand the film’s logic and internal universe but once it clicks you realise that you are onboard for one of the strangest films to grace the UK for quite a while. Some of the elements are wantonly cooky and don’t work. The characters only eat hi-carbs <??> , if your mind back-fires you can end up speaking fluent Bulgarian. Such outward surreality turns me off. However, other lunatic additions to the story are excellent and within context make complete sense. The use of sketches to find the client’s houses instead of maps or sat-navs is great. The re-direction of a corpse road (that blocks psychic signals) being redirected with a flow of mirrors is also ingenious and convincing. The way in which the two men in suits travel to their assignments across farm fields and by steam train is bizarrely realised too. One of the men lives in a derelict and landlocked boat next to a cluster of giant cooling towers and so on… The location manager has had a field-day and the fields, old stations and weird farmhouses add to the air of the bizarre that invades the film. The soundtrack is made up of Bosnian folk music and some unusual accapella choral acrobatics that are still haunting me (have a listen, its on the trailer: SKELETONS). Jason Isaacs (EVENT HORIZON) turns up as the duo’s handler, The Colonel, who effortlessly ramps up the surreal character elements. But here’s the rub. Does it work as a drama? Does it all add up?
Fortunately, the plot has great forward momentum and does end up at a satisfying conclusion. Despite all the weirdness, Skeletons proves that all the add-ons are purely cosmetic because it reveals itself to be a decent detective story. It’s well acted in a naturalistic way and it obvious takes some prompts from The Office because it is embedded in a supernatural version of our banal world were bureaucracy still rules supreme. It wasn’t quite my cup of tea because I like I said, I found some of the peculiarities to be a bit too cute so I won’t be evangelical about it. It reminded me of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To the Galaxy where there is no reason for the randomness to exist let alone prompt laughs. I certainly know what type of friends to recommend it to and who would swerve around it. It’s actors are great across the board, channelling madness or alternatively taking it all in a daily stride. It’s that type of film and it does require the viewer to be on the ball and to tap into it’s logic. If you don’t you will end up lost and end up hating a good attempt at something different that works. It’s mostly very funny too.
6.5 out of 10 – Sophisticated and surreal comedy. A bit cute at times but it’s mostly a note-perfect story in a unique world were The Office meets Tales Of The Unexpected. An acquired taste.
WHAT HAVE I SEEN THIS ACTOR IN BEFORE?
- Ed Gaughan: Bunnytown (voice)
- Andrew Buckley: Extras (TV), Bunnytown (voice)
- Jason Isaacs: Fury, Harry Potter – parts 1-8, Abduction, Cars 2 (voice), Green Zone, Friends With Money, Elektra, Peter Pan (2003), The Tuxedo, Windtalkers, Black Hawk Down, Sweet November, The Patriot, The End Of The Affair, Soldier, Divorcing Jack, Armageddon, Event Horizon, Dragonheart, Solitaire For 2, Shopping
- Paprika Steen: Love Is All You Need, Mifune, Festen, The Idiots
- Tuppence Middleton: Spooks, Jupiter Ascending, The Imitation Game, A Long Way Down, The Love Punch, Trance, Trap For Cinderella, Cleanskin, Skeletons, Chatroom, Tormented