Directed by Mark A.C. Brown Starring Matt Prendergast, David Whitney, and Mike Shepard Indie Film Review by Owen Herman
Meet Carlson (Matt Prendergast) and Lavender (David Whitney). The former is heartbroken, moody, and easily annoyed, the latter is crude, obnoxious, and easily annoying. The two are forced to share a house together as part of a guardian programme to look after the property when the owner has passed away. The two find it difficult enough to get on and the situation is only worsened by talk of the house being haunted, and the arrival of some rather sinister home invaders.
Written and directed by Mark A.C. Brown, Guardians is a comedy with a touch of horror that echoes the witty, smart, and dark style of the now hugely successful Martin McDonagh (In Bruges in particular). The dialogue is quick fire and endlessly quotable, the characters are delightfully over the top, and the humour is dark, often rude, and always hilarious. Despite the similarities, Guardians is very much its own film, and it really becomes something special in its final third.
Two such conflicting personalities being forced to be in close proximity to each other is always entertaining. Throw in a bizarre subplot involving Mike Shepard’s Buxton (which I won’t spoil, its really worth the surprise) and the film’s first two thirds are engaging and humorous. The real home invasion plot itself takes a while to really get going, and it would have been improved if the final act, where the comedy is strongest, had gone on longer, with some of the earlier moments being trimmed down.
Everything, from the script to the performances, lands just on the right side of silly. There are also some sinister elements, although perhaps not quite scary enough, to give the film an edge. As much as these characters would be infuriating to know in real life, they are a guilty pleasure to watch, and you do find yourself rooting for them when it is needed. Every member of the cast is great; Whitney, Shepard, and Chris Spyrides (playing the villainous Spruce) all battle for the scene with their full on comedic performances, while Prendergast nails all the subtle looks and eyebrow raises needed for the straight man caught up in a weird world.
Guardians is by no means a perfect film, nor is it a real revelation, but it is an absolute delight. It is evidence that small indie films can be just as, if not more, entertaining than the big money makers, and that with a bit of effort, you can find films well worth your time.