28th Dec2017

‘The Middle Finger’ Review (Troma)

by Philip Rogers

Stars: Séamus Hanly, Matthew Kelly, Simon Mulholland, Conor O’Toole, Rebecca Dore, Rosemary Henderson, Shane Quinn, Lera Manukovskayal, Sonia Pereyaslavets, Niall Cutler, Georgia Corcoran, Natalie Ní Chléirigh, Casey Jones | Written and Directed by Séamus Hanly

middle-finger-poster

Dennis is an insecure, lonely and frustrated teenager. Held back to repeat a year at school, he is ridiculed by his school mates and shunned by his friends, he seeks a way to fit in, but he just doesn’t know how. After being attacked and tied to a fence by the school bully Ferg (Matthew Kelly), Dennis (Séamus Hanly) comes into contacted with an alien who has selected him to help protect the earth from an evil threat. Begrudgingly Dennis excepts and is bestowed special powers which enables him to change into a symbol of justice, a new type of super hero called The Middle Finger. With his new abilities Dennis must learn to fight crime in preparation to take on an impending threat from an evil alien who is planning on world denomination.

The Middle Finger is a new independent comedy spoof from Ireland, which offers a fresh take on the superhero genre with a hero which people can really relate too. Developing the characters with a sharp witty script rather than relying in the visual abilities of the special effects.

Recently released by Troma, you can easily see how The Middle Finger fits into the independent studios catalogue. Writer, director and also lead actor Séamus Hanly having cited films such as Sgt Kabukiman N.Y.P.D. (1990) as an influence on his film. Filled with sharp satirical observations and surreal sequences integrated into seemingly situations the film has developed its own unique look and style in the delivery.

It was always going to be difficult to make a new superhero which really stands out, but the symbol status of with his oversized helmet shaped like a giant hand flipping the bird is a design which is instantly recognisable. The sheer size of his helmet is unpractical and a unique design unlike anything I have seen before, and it helps to creates some hilarious moments. Not just when Dennis is trying to fight, but also when he tries to tackle some everyday situations.

As well as writing and directing the film Séamus Hanly also takes the lead in The Middle Finger as Dennis., which he portrays with an idle deadpan performance which perfectly captures the bewildered teenager. His social awkwardness makes him more grounded as individual, as someone most people can resonate too and it’s interesting to see that this is doesn’t change when he becomes a superhero. There are some good supporting performances in the film, including Matthew Kelly as the as the slow and often misguided school bully Ferg, who has taken a dislike to Dennis and sighted him as his main target, and the thoughtful Simon Mulholland as his teacher Mr. O’Sullivan. They both work well with Séamus to add additional humour to the film and evolve differently throughout the film to how you may expect.

With the film being self-financed it doesn’t have the huge action sequences and CGI affects you would normally get with a summer Hollywood blockbuster. But with the films creative editing and start stop motion capture (which reminded me a lot of the original Evil Dead films), it still manages to create some surreal and entertaining moments. One of my favourite scenes is the transformation between his super hero persona The Middle Finger and Dennis, which is executed unexpectedly as he passes a lamp post. It shows how a simple effect done well can really work, which works even better when the scene is later recreated.

The Middle Finger is a brilliantly funny debut from writer and director Séamus Hanly which works so well because it doesn’t take itself too seriously, showing what you can achieve despite the low budget. Taking a satirical look at the current trend for the modern superhero, it is delivered from a more ordinary point of view. He may not be very cool, have super gadgets or bulging muscles, but he does have a big helmet and, when it comes to it, a lot of heart. If you can watch with an open mind there are plenty of laughs to be had because it’s time to put your faith in a new kind of superhero.

The Middle Finger is available to stream on Troma Now or can be purchased on Blu Ray from Troma.com

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