Stars: Alfie Allen, Hannah Tointon, Christian Bassington, Jack Gordon | Written by Paul Davis, Paul Fischer | Directed by Paul Davis
Paul Davis, director of the fantastic An American Werewolf in London documentary Beware the Moon and the SUPERB short film Him Indoors, returns to narrative storytelling with his second short The Body, this time working with producer and co-writer Paul Fischer, another slice of quintessentially British horror that, as with Davis’ previous short, mixes comedy and horror to great effect. If there’s one thing Davis knows it’s black comedy…
[The Body is] the tale of a murderer (Allen) who uses the cover of Halloween night to transport his latest victim from the scene of the crime to his final resting place. Wrapping the body in tarpaulin and dragging it through the busy streets of London as a bloody Halloween prop, all goes to plan until an old school mate (Brassington) recognises the murderer and drags him along to a swanky Halloween party nearby, where a chance meeting with a beautiful girl (Tointon) takes his evening on an even bigger turn for the bizarre.
I was blown away by Davis’ Him Indoors when it screened at Frightfest 2012, so I knew going in to The Body that it had a lot to live up to and at first watch, honestly, I didn’t enjoy it as much as Davis’ first short. The reason? Undoubtedly because Reece Shearsmith made for such a compelling central character and Alfie Allen’s stoic serial killer just wasn’t as intriguing. For the most part, in all honesty, The Body is pretty forgettable. There’s nothing really substantial to get your teeth into beyond the interest in seeing just how the killer is going to get away with disposing of the titular cadaver.
But then that twist ending happens… And then you realise what Davis was trying to achieve with his short.
Yes, The Body is the latest in a very long, very well-established, line of genre film: the “sting-in-the tail” morality play, done many years before in comics such as William Gaines’Tales From the Crypt and a staple of television and cinema ever since with the likes of The Twilight Zone and Tales From the Darkside et al.
It would seem Davis has learnt well from his years as a horror fan and I for one think The Body certainly wouldn’t look out of place in a new installment of Creepshow – it certainly has the same dark humour found in the films of George A. Romero and John Landis as well as in Stephen King’s short stories. The short also harkens back to the Portmanteau horror films of Amicus with a modern, yet still quintessentially British, tone.
Whilst I personally didn’t think The Body was as enjoyable as Him Indoors, I have no doubt that this is yet another solid film from one of the UK’s brightest horror talents; and I’m not the only one who thinks so. The short has already won numerous awards at film festivals across the globe – a success which Davis well deserves.