0.5 out of 10

Release date: 3rd March 2017 (DVD premiere)

Director: Steven M Smith (Haunted 5 / Haunted 4 / Haunted 3 / Haunted 2 / The Doll Master /  Invasion Earth / I Am Hooligan / Essex Boys – Law of Survival / Hooligans At War / Haunted (2013) / The Time of Her Life)

Cast: Matthew Winters, Sonny Denham, Tiffany-Ellen Robinson, Jon-Paul Gates, Rorie Stockton, Luke Anthony jr, Tony Fadil, Kevin Horsham, Can Somer, Frankie Clarence, Billy James Machin with Darren James King and Patrick Kilpatrick

Writer: Kris Gray / Steven M Smith

Trailer: BORSTAL


I didn’t think director Steven M Smith had it in him to make a worse movie than Hooligans at War, but here it is. This seems to be his first film without  actor/producer Chris Bell, but I’m not sure how incidental that is to this dry, boring and cliched plod of a film. Setting out its stall as an alternative to Scum, this ends up being a bad remake of the early Danny Dyer vehicle Borstal Boy. Somehow, the cast includes a real actor this time, the positively puzzled action film baddie of the 1990s Patrick Kilpatrick (TOXIC AVENGER) looks surprised to be there. He looks throughly confused throughout during his seated role as the governor of the borstal. It looks like he’s had his role split down the middle with Jon-Paul Gates (HAUNTED), handling the lion’s share of the villainy as the deputy governor, Len Forshaw. The lead is handled by an unbelievably smug and corny young actor-wannabe called Matthew Winters.

The plot is set in 1971, and tells the true-story of  young Kris Gray (WINTERS), who is sent to borstal by his well-to-do father. He tells the governor that he wants to be a singer like Paul McCartney and has low-rent fantasies of playing to stadium crowds. He makes corny friends straight away but still falls foul of a 1970s chav (CAN SOMER) who talks the same way a kid would these days, and looks like an oompa loompa. Watch as he meets his downfall when Kris pushes him on to a bed and his legs go up in the air Chuckle Brothers-style – you almost expect to hear a slide trombone on the soundtrack. Probably the worst fate for a baddie in the history of movies. There’s even a corny scouse mate, a corny Cockney mate and a corny Scottish mate. Oh yeah, there’s even a corny love interest (the deputy governor’s wife no-less), and a corny plot that shows Kris as the best ever inmate at the borstal that even the custodians end up loving him. The film is packed with Kris’ woeful songs, and a bunch of montages which are only good in the way that they save us having to listen to any more shit dialogue. It’s no surprise that this is load of old bollocks was produced by Kris Gray himself, who portrays himself as some kind of  Jesus Christ figure for young offenders. Occasionally his character will break the ‘third wall’ and address the viewer Orlando-style. It’s a cringe-worthy device and makes you wonder if the filmmakers have ever seen a good film. When an old hack like Patrick Kilpatrick is made to look like Kevin Spacey or Paul Giamatti by comparison to the rest of the pitiful cast, you know you’re in trouble. The rest of the non-actors deliver some of the most terrible dialogue I’ve heard in a long time. Smith ‘go-to’ Jon-Paul Gates is elevated from cameo detail to supporting lead and he just sucks. He’s sporting a bizarre fake Northern accent (the worst I’ve heard since Jason Maza‘s in Angel) and even more bizarrely, he delivers each line slowly and deliberately, somehow making the rest of the bad cast look better in the process – it has to be seen to be believed. Tony Fadil (OFF-PISTE), who also pops up in a lot of Smith’s films also gets to have a crack at an accent. His is a Belfast one and again, WTF? It’s weird how this lot are so delusioned as to try out these performance experiments out on a national level. Fadil and Gates contributions to this already abysmal opus of no-level ego unwatchable. Amidst, the shit chaos and boredom is a small cameo from the only person with any talent within a 100 miles of Smith, and that’s Darren James King (BLOOD FEUD) (about the only natural actor he’s ever worked with). If King had had the lead in this it may have been a tiny bit better. Alas and alack, his appearance is obscured by terrible lighting and sound in a non-scene about stealing from the kitchen.

Bad acting, out of tune songs, and a corny plot are just a part of the problem as Smith cuts corners behind the scenes too. The set is a 1980s holiday camp with modern windows and wall-fittings making the 70s setting a joke. The camera work and sound is all over the places and the man needs to work out how to use a white balance on his video camera, as frequently scenes are bleached out and look bloody awful.

0.5 out of 10 – Another rush job from Steven M Smith and his band of crap actors. This time he’s teamed up with someone called Kris Gray to tell their interminably boring and self-congratulatory tale of borstal life in the 1970s. Boringstal, more like.



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