Written and Directed by Adam de la Cour Starring Benjamin Campbell Piggott Short Film Review by Chris Olson
Like a nightmarish acid trip, filmmaker Adam de la Cour's short film Mr Topps is not for the faint of heart, the young viewer, the easily offended, those suffering from a heart condition, or basically anyone who is scared of clowns. However, for that small audience demographic that is left, this is chaotically enjoyable and takes clowning around to a whole new, darker level. Mr Topps (Benjamin Campbell Piggott) is a lion tamer who finds himself tied to a chair, gagged and being tormented by a robotic voice and violent sequences. We feel sympathetic towards him for only a short while, though, once his explicit reactions to the torment are given, showing him to be just as ghastly as his persecutors. As the baffling nature of the interrogation intensifies, including an eye-wincing array of methods (from electric screwdriver phalluses to butt cheeks covered in cream), it is anyone's guess as to what, if anything, is happening. Dark horror comedies like Mr Topps can find it hard to locate a willing audience, however fans of things like The League of Gentlemen or Black Mirror, and to some extent The Mighty Boosh, will certainly enjoy the scope of the darkness. The language is incredibly foul, which perfectly suits the tone, and the film is far from afraid to be daring...in fact it revels in its rebellion. The central performance from Campbell Piggott is hugely enigmatic, if not particularly endearing. His mad-as-a-hatter flamboyance is completely thrilling, as is his facial expressions during the dialogue with the "voice". Towards the end of the short film some more characters and performers are introduced, with varying degrees of appeal, however there are a couple of ropey turns which break the momentum created beforehand. There is a brilliance to the editing of this film, using some sharp, fast cuts to keep the viewer on edge, and the use of intense close ups and low angle framing at times made for an unpredictable and exciting atmosphere which was needed to partner the sheer craziness of the story. The frenetic energy created by de la Cour is commendable. The ending was a little flimsy for this reviewer, and there was absolutely no coherence to the plot, but Mr Topps is a film to bask in, not understand. Throw away your inhibitions and let loose the inner circus performer, the idea of taming this kind of beast is simply ridiculous.
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