Dir: Shaub Miah
Starring: Josh Myers, Sagar Radia, Andy Mcleod, Joseph Gale, Lucinda Rhodes-Flaherty.
Running Time – 23 Minutes .
Remember those nights that start out with the best intentions but somehow spiral out of control and end in disaster? Probably not as most of the time we’re too hung over to recall how and why everything went wrong! However, most of us have had at least one night where common sense is replaced by wanton excess leading to all out chaos and this is where Death Do Us Apart takes its inspiration. Coming on like a crazy mash up of ‘The Hangover’(2009) and ‘Night of The Living Dead’ (1968) it manages to cram a lot of fun and insanity into its short 23 minute running time.
Following a group of lads as they take to the city to enjoy a night of booze, women, and drugs the film treads some familiar ground, but adds a distinctly British flavour and shows an adept understanding of what it is like to be out on ‘the lash’ without ever resorting to the usual embarrassing prat falls that these kinds of film often revel in. Desperate to get their likeable but shy friend laid they head to a strip club run by a hulking bruiser that likes everyone to know whos boss. He confiscates their drugs and gives them to one of the girls to liven everyone up. Sure enough it isn’t long before things begin to get nasty. High on the dodgy drugs the strippers begin to turn into flesh crazed zombies and our heroes find themselves in a fight to survive the night.
Shorter films can sometimes be a difficult proposition as they seem caught between trying to tell a story and pushing a specific idea or visual aesthetic. However they can also be wonderfully entertaining and exhibit a creative freedom that features do not always have the privilege of. Death Do Us Apart may not add anything new to the zombie genre as a whole, but it approaches it with a sense of abandon, excess, and heart coming up trumps in a lot of areas and suggesting that there is potential for all involved to go far. This version is a little rough round the edges, as would be expected from a rough cut, but it flows nicely and for the most part has a solid narrative drive.
It pitches the balance between humour and horror incredibly well and gives the audience a set of characters to invest in rather than just a bunch of walking clichés sent to the slaughter. The characters are to some extent the usual ‘laddish’ stereotypes but they have personality and are a likeable lot meaning that when the horror comes in the final third it hits a little harder. It is because of this that the film works so well, creating empathy for its characters and mining its humour from the situation rather than from slapstick contrivances. Director Shaub Miah skilfully recreates the feeling of a big night out and as such makes the situation strangely believable, capturing that feeling of being indestructible and the whole town being yours, only to find that it really doesn’t work like that!
Whilst the visual style and the deft direction are a large part of the film’s success none of it would work were the actors not up to the task and here they are excellent. It can often be difficult to find the talent to make small films like this work and it is so often the Achilles heel of both short and low-budget features, so it is refreshing to see a film where everyone involved seems to have the talent and the desire to make it work. There are some really good moments throughout that wouldn’t have worked had the actors not been as committed as they are here, bringing a lot of real world humour and emotion to proceedings.
As the film enters its final third and the horror kicks in proceedings lurch quite effectively from a laddish black comedy to outright chaos as the girls turn and start to feast on our heroes and anyone else that gets in the way. The blood flows as skulls are crushed and throats are ripped open and it is fun to see a small film that has the gall to go for it rather than cut away and hide. It does suffer here from some of the short falls that plague a lot of shorter film as the flow is interrupted and proceedings feel a little rushed. This is a minor criticism though as this is a cracking example of what can be achieved with little more than heart and talent, and should go down a storm at festivals.
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