Written and Directed by Peter King
Starring Alex Harvey, Tyrone Lee Davis, Peter Silva, Niall Phillips, Isis Davis, Darren Douglas, Jason Rocks
Short film review by Hannah Sayer
From first glance, the title of this short film from Peter King leads the audience to believe the subject matter will focus on cocaine and gang culture’s prevalence in today’s society. However, the misleading nature of the title is the initial example of how the ‘mockumentary’ style of the piece is in place right from the outset.
Crack focuses on two gangs on the streets of London who are fighting over what can only be assumed is something serious. However, the cause of their clash is conkers. Rather than dealing drugs, the dealing of conkers is used to provide a social commentary on today’s youth culture. The interview style intercut within the narrative with the different gang members allows for a realistic, documentary approach, which is then cleverly satirized through the fighting over conkers. The threatening sincerity evoked through fighting talk, for example “you come around here again and you’re dead”, seems ridiculous and comical when remembering the cause of the tension.
The initial fight progresses to a battle between the two kings of the groups, including one who is nicknamed ‘the Conkerer’. This group goes to a cook who is making drugs, where we learn that the group is making money through the dealing of conkers. In this room there is a poster with the statement ‘legalise conkers - one love’ printed on it. This links back to a sign on the street earlier which said ‘no conkers’. These signs are signifying that conkers are illegal, like drugs, and that people are dealing and producing them behind closed doors so they are not caught. They taste and weigh the conkers, directly mimicking the drug dealing business and the people who buy and sell them. This is all over exaggerated and taken seriously to parody today’s society and the ever prevalent existence of an illegal drug culture.
Crack ends with the highly dramatic final conker fight, which King directs to be almost theatrical in the way that it seems staged. When one group is defeated, the final line of the narrative is that they’re: “Always looking for something to fight over - maybe marbles”. The deadpan style of humour in this short film is reminiscent of the UK sitcom The Office, especially in this final shot. This is said with the actor looking directly at the camera as the interview comes to a close, leaving a thought provoking message with the audience as it jokes but puts into context that people will always clash and that fighting between groups of people will always occur, no matter the physical object, or substance, causing this tension. King is successful in the way that this mockumentary doesn’t take itself too seriously but it is subconsciously thoughtful in the way that it tackles issues of gang culture and drug crime.