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All Above Board indie film review


Directed by David Simpson

Starring Victoria Broom, Tyne Stewart, David Simpson, Grant Murphy, Paul Mackie, Michaela Ellis, Jack Eaton & Martin W. Payne

Indie film review by Eleanor Hucklesby

The supernatural, with its range of ghosts, zombies, vampires, etc. is a difficult concept to bring to screen. And in its attempt All Above Board, directed by David Simpson and co-written by Paul Mackie and David Simpson, mixes the horror and suspense of its ghost story with a very British type of humour.

All Above Board tells the story of two police officers called to a pub, who go on to investigate the strange events that took place on Halloween after a séance hosted by the mysterious Morgana. In framing the action through the eyes of the police officers, the humour of All Above Board manages to come from two places: the dynamics between the characters and the story’s action set pieces. Indeed, a lot of the humour stems from the former. A particular highlight is the two police officers as they struggle, through sighs and raised eyebrows, to combine what they see with what they find. Another is the dynamic between Morgana, the psychic (Victoria Broom) and the landlord of the pub, Barry (Martin W. Payne), both characters being performed with relish by the actors.

Of course, the premise of All Above Board is not a new premise and sometimes it feels as if the film is raking over old ground, rather than being influenced by other filmmakers. However, there are strokes of originality. With the film being very much a chamber piece (we never go beyond the boundary of the pub), the opening of the film is strong and the final act is even stronger. The script’s dialogue is, it feels, almost deliberately naturalistic. As the characters become more and more trapped by their own misdeeds, they eff and blind and find themselves discussing the true meaning behind the phrase “clocking off”. It feels like a lock-in at the local pub – only there’s angry spirits lurking, ready to punish the meek and unworthy. Yet where the dialogue hits, it also unfortunately misses. Some subplots feel unnecessary, and as such some scenes go on for too long, and you can’t help but think that a good minute or two could’ve been cut without major damage to the story – and could’ve even ramped up the overall tension that little bit more.

Overall, All Above Board is a solid effort, with humorous moments and some strong ideas, but its flaws unfortunately prevent it from being a game changer.

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