Review by Matty Budrewicz
Directed by Geoff Harmer
Written by Mark Brennan, Geoff Harmer and James Webber
Starring Paul Anthony, Stacy Hart, Jenny Mitchell and Andrew Coppin
Evoking the nightmarish and deeply uncomfortable ambiance of fellow monochromatic shockers Eraserhead and Rubber’s Lover, debutante feature director Geoff Harmer’s Addict tells the story of sales company boss David Pettigrew.
Beneath his genial facade, David is in fact one very disturbed individual; a man completely obsessed with his married employee Kim [Hart] and a vicious, violent sociopath with a ferocious and near insatiable appetite for kinky sex and murder.
With his “addictions” spiralling further and further out of control, David attempts to salvage what’s left of his sanity by upping his pursuit of an on-maternity-leave Kim- a decision that proves to have dire consequences for her, her exhausted husband Graham [Coppin] and office temp Sarah [Mitchell], who has a little infatuation of all of her own developing…
I was pleasantly surprised by the ultra-low budget Addict, truth be told. Despite a little roughness around the technical edges, it is by and large a genuinely impressive and thoughtful movie- a bloody terrific flick, in fact, that went above and beyond my admittedly short-sighted expectations of it.
Anchored by a bold performance form lead Anthony, Addict walks a fine line between character focused, Alan Clarke-esque docu-drama and art film-like bursts of terrifying surrealism. It’s a hard film to pin down for sure and one that’s all the better for it: such a complex and compelling blend of both genre convention and subversion is something I’d certainly welcome in my low budget fare more often.
Weirdly, it’s only during the films ‘most-current-horror-trend’ aping moments does it falter slightly, what with its use of reality horror-type, straight to camera video diary pieces. Though thankfully used as a means to avoid what’d otherwise be a shedload of crass exposition (and despite some of them being laconically hilarious, with David’s bemoaning of the poor customer service standards of a prostitute he’s just offed being a chucklesome highlight), David’s to-camera addresses seem a little rushed and largely out of place; completely at odds with the rest of Harmer’s otherwise more controlled and measured approach.
Even more frustratingly, some of them reek of pseudo-“look how crazy I am!” madman babble that- although excellently delivered by Anthony- feel as though Harmer and his co-scripters Brennan and Webber didn’t have enough faith in their cracking material to eschew such a jejune plot device. Thankfully though, Addict at least steers clear of the cod philosophy and smugness that marred the similar sequences in Julian Richards’ otherwise excellent The Last Horror Movie.
Still, it’s more than easy to overlook such things, especially when the rest of this Brit creeper is so good. It’s not often something gets under my skin the way Addict did. There’s moments contained within that’ll stay with me for a while, that much I’m certain of: a shocking fuck-dream sequence, the blunt near flippant murder of a council estate dwelling working girl, the ever encroaching blackness within the chiaroscuro photography, the deliciously ironic coda… It’s a stark and often oppressive work to say the least, a cut from the same cloth thematic cousin of underground iconoclasts Jörg Buttgereit and Chad Ferrin, thanks to its frank depictions of sex, violence and urban isolation.
Currently gearing up for festival screenings, I’m lucky enough to have obtained a DIY screener copy. Strangely enough, the lack of packaging and simple biro scrawl of the title onto a blank disc really adds to it, as if I’m privvy to something that I’m not supposed to be watching. Adventurous and open-minded viewers would do well to check it out- I know I’m glad I did.
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