1.5 out of 10
Release Date: 21st September 2015
Cast: Chris Bell, Ross Boatman, Jesse Birdsall, Megan Lockhurst, Abbie Steele, James Hodcroft, Owen Clark, Jake Francis, Dean Martins, David King, Danny Howard, Darren James King, Jemima Slade with Mark Arden and Carlton Leach
Writer: Steven M Smith, Chris Bell & Chris Jolley
Trailer: ESSEX BOYS – LAW OF SURVIVAL
The undead figure of the Essex Boys movie shambles into view once more. The unstoppable sub-genre of British gangster movie that circles around the Rettendon Landrover murders continues apace with this sorry addition. This one comes with an endorsement from Rettendon murder victim Pat Tate’s bessie mate, Carlton Leach, as if to say – laugh at this film at your peril because it’s the real deal. Well, I hope he got bought more than that pint he’s seen supping as his opening voice-over explains that Rettendon was ‘just the beginning’.
Producer / actor Chris Bell (BONDED BY BLOOD 2) plays Danny who gets dragged into a crass gang power move and massacre instigated by Detective Franks (ROSS BOATMAN – LONDON’S BURNING) when his pregnant fiancee (ABBIE STEELE) gets murdered. The link to the Landrover murders is tenuous and risky yet nonsensical. Danny teams up with a fake American gun expert and the Canadian Secret Service (yes really) to foil Franks. The film resembles a DIY version of Taken more than a gangster movie.
It’s encouraging to see that some of the main players are given an opportunity to act, as there is some ability on show. Chris Bell has some good scenes and old pros like Jesse Birdsall (ELDORADO), Boatman and Mark Arden (CARRY ON COLUMBUS) make an effort to inject this with a bit of seriousness. There’s a nice performance from first timer Abbie Steele, so she could have a decent future if she finds a good agent. Worst performance awards goes to an unknown called James Hodcroft. His take as Danny’s mysterious cousin Lee is so irritating you’ll be willing his character to get killed. When it finally happens you’ll be cheering, he’s so bad he belongs in Hooligans At War. Also the murder scene where Danny’s best friend Harvey (DARREN JAMES KING – LOOTERS TOOTERS AND SAWN OFF SHOOTERS) is killed by transvestite is the best piece of unintentional comedy of 2015. Hilarious, I ended up watching the scene three times to make sure I hadn’t dreamt it up. It’s all misdirected effort because in every other department the film collapses into a heap. The script and plot is about as ludicrous as I’ve ever seen and plot twists seem to have been thrown in on the day of shooting. Someone’s bought a camera drone as there are some low-resoultion aerial shots which work sparingly, it’s a shame the images in these ‘breathers’ decay even on a small TV.
Never has a low-budget been worn on the maker’s sleeve as much as it is in Essex Boys – Law of Survival. It’s as if the makers went in preparing a lack of money as an excuse for how duff it all is. Given the result they needed a rewrite, and more time spent directing and blocking the scenes. The direction seems non existent and the editor may have been drunk. It’s 100% better than Hooligans At War but that’s like saying a cat turd is better than a dog turd because it’s smaller. There are improvements to be seen and the makers are moving in the right direction, but at this pace they maybe up to the same quality of Jack Says in about 10 years’ time.
A joke compared to all of the previous Essex Boys movies (this one was even set and filmed in Orpington, Kent!) and I’ve never seen a good one besides the daddy of ’em all Rise of the Footsoldier. Steve M Smith and Chris Bell are coming back with some horror films next , so with a bit of luck they will have found a genre in which they can flex some creative muscles rather than splashing around in old and shitty bathwater that is the Essex Boys sub-genre.
1.5 out of 10 – Sloppy and ridiculous.
Check out a second review from Matt ‘Rettendon’ Usher aka Joe Pesci II below. He’s so Essex he lives on Rettendon Lane.
WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?
- Chris Bell: Knights of the Damned, Simon, Haunted 3, Haunted 2, Bonded By Blood 2, Robert 2, I Am Hooligan, Hooligans At War
- Ross Boatman: Hooligans At War, Sex & Drugs & Rock-N-Roll, Hardmen, London’s Burning (TV)
- Jesse Birdsall: Hollyoaks (TV), Footballers’ Wives (TV), The Bill (TV), Bugs (TV), Beyond Bedlam, Eldorado (TV), The Ballad of Kid Divine – The Cockney Cowboy, Getting It Right, Wish You Were Here, Revolution (1985)
- Megan Lockhurst: Robert
- Dean Martins: Simon, Hooligans At War
- David King: Psychotic (2012)
- Danny Howard: Haunted 2, Hooligans At War
- Darren James King: I Am Hooligan, Blood Feud (dir), Looters Tooters and Sawn Off Shooters
- Jemima Slade: Haunted 3, Haunted 2, I Am Hooligan, Big Brother (TV)
- Mark Arden: Charlie, Eastenders (TV), Carry On Columbus, Lazarus & Dingwall (TV), London’s Burning (TV), The Young Ones (TV), Carrot’s Lib (TV), Dr Who (TV)
- Carlton Leach: Green Street 3, Killer Bitch