PLOT: In celebration of a mate's release from prison, a group of Londoners hole up in dilapidated high-rise to get their party on. One problem...a hideously deformed squatter doesn't take kindly to interlopers!
REVIEW: Made in the UK back in 2012, Menhaj Huda's low-budget-single-act-horror-show COMEDOWN finally gets a VOD release today, August 5th. And you can pretty much see why. Outside of a few inventive death sequences, a dingy atmosphere and a strong casting decision or two, there isn't much here to differentiate itself from the recent spate of rote trapped-in thrillers that take place in a single setting over the course of a single night. I usually love those kinds of movies, of course when expertly executed with pace, tension and a tightly woven original screenplay. Don't get me wrong, I didn't hate COMEDOWN, it's quite watchable in spots, but it simply doesn't do enough on pretty much any level to separate itself from the pack and remain memorable. Not quite a letdown, actually more aptly described in its own title - here's one slasher joint that's about as joyously predictable as a buzzed COMEDOWN!
Lloyd (Jacob Anderson) just sewed-up a stint in the pen. Upon release he's greeted by his girl Jemma (Sophie Stuckey), newly pregnant, along with pals Jason (Adam Deacon) and Col (Duane Henry). You know what's up, it's f*cking party time! The crew and a few others decide to shack-up in the tower-block they grew up in, now reduced to a dilapidated high-rise long since left for dead. Break out the tall beers, thick spliffs and hot molly, right. But not just that, this particular crew's into a little more illegality for their wares. Dudes hoist up a pirate radio station from the side of the building, piping in their own customized party tunes...you know, annoying ass dub-step and dizzying house-breaks. Actually, this whole pirate radio angle could have been way more interesting, a la PONTY POOL (or hey, PIRATE RADIO!), but it's never really explored. It's sort of background window dressing, I guess meant to channel diegetic music into the scenes for realism, though much more time was spent carrying the equipment up the tower-block. Anyway, speaking of the story, you can already tell what comes next.
After drawing a hefty buzz, the small gaggle of mates slowly dismembers one by one. And I do mean dismembers! What I did like a lot about COMEDOWN were the relatively inventive death sequences it featured. And not just the ways people get killed, but the varied implement used each time out. Seriously, how frustrated to you get when you see Michael Meyers, for example, do most of his butchery with the lone-long-blade he always carries on his person? Well, the deformed-hobo-killer in COMEDOWN pulls out the knife, the nail-gun, the gas-pump, the chains, the booby-traps, the rats, the f*cking works! That I dug quite a bit. But again, there really isn't anything too extreme or too out of the ordinary...rather a sly wrinkle or two in the deathly method...otherwise it's all overly trampled territory, both graphically and narratively. In the simplest terms...we've seen this stuff before!
What we haven't seen in most cheaply made slashers is the kind of charisma from its lead actor like we see in COMEDOWN. It's no wonder why this Anderson fella was cast as Grey Worm in Game of Thrones. Dude has an un-teachable naturalism that makes him instantly credible. And here he's compelling enough that we root for him, especially when tasked with rescuing his departed girlfriend and unborn baby when she wonders off into the creaky corridors of the block. If it were a lesser actor, we'd care even less about the proceedings in COMEDOWN. Stuckey's pretty good too, to her credit, redolent of a younger Scarlett Johansson, but it's surely Anderson we need to keep a look out for moving forward. Other minor plaudits go to director Menhaj Huda and DP Trevor Forrest for creating a pretty creepy single-setting that doesn't get too bland or boring, instead infusing a grimy style of flickering lights, sweaty walls and fading echoes to keep things off-kilter. Again though, hardly original.
So there we have it. COMEDOWN feels precisely like one once the credits roll, in large part because of its inability to really standout in a far too overcrowded subgenre. I liked it okay in bits, mostly due to the amusing fatalities and various forms of bloodletting. I also caught notice of this Jacob Anderson Fella, who is clearly someone to watch in the future (GOT fans already know this shite!) Other than that, Huda and screenwriter Steven Kendall couldn't wade their way out of the muck and mire of washed-up horror platitudes and overplayed slasher movie tropes to make somethine truly memorable. This shite feels tired! Even in the specific "trapped in building over a single night" subgenre, COMEDOWN can't possibly sustains itself over the course of time. Hell, I watched it this morning and I can hardly remember the characters names. Again, it's no real shock to learn the flick took two years to finally get a meager VOD release.