top of page

The Arsonist - indie film review


Directed by #MorganOCallaghan


Many teenage film enthusiasts will appreciate the desire to go out with your friends and try to create a film. StarfishFilms, however, have managed to turn this passion into a fully-produced reality. The Arsonist is a filmmaking fantasy where a group of lads have created a project that is very well thought out and executed in a simultaneously fun and serious way.

The crux of this indie film situates solemn Detective Harvey Price (George Everett-Button) who has been transferred to a new police unit. Here, he encounters his new detective partner, the infamous Alex Boston (Jonny Brookes) and their dynamic gets off to a stiff start with tension obvious from the offset. However, the two must cast their differences aside to combat corruption and search for the cities most wanted criminal: The Arsonist.

Split poster. Bottom: Detectives Harvey and Alex walking away from the camera. Top: Harvey and Alex close up, with 'Police line do not cross' tape over their eyes.
The Arsonist film poster (2020)

Writers O'Callaghan and Brookes take the notion of 'bent coppers' to a whole new level within this contemporary hour-long action piece and the viewer is expertly and artistically thrown from scene to scene with clear direction. The camera moves with the fast pace of the story, with each shot incredibly immersive, as shaky handheld shots follow the detectives as if an active participant. Although dizzying in some parts, this resulted in an effective way to pull the viewer further into the story. Close-ups rule this film which, combined with more gruesome and aggressive moments, added thoughtful detail to each scene.

Acting showed real talent, particularly from leads Brookes and Everett-Button, and emotions were mostly conveyed in anger which was fitting for the genre. With the addition of plot twists and turns, this created more complexity, incidentally adding a lot of effective character depth. Amongst the serious themes that the story carries, there is light-hearted humour injected into the script. It is these witty moments that do well to balance with the more serious parts. Although some of the dialogue is over-explanatory or on-the-nose in parts, many of these exaggerations proved to be welcome bursts of light relief, with characters such as the mayor. All of these elements combined to create an incredibly performative final showdown, which was very professionally done and succeeded to provide copious amounts of dramatic tension.

Editing-wise, there were some inconsistencies such as audio volume, but the score matched the vibe of the piece well. Sound effects were inventive and, much like the camerawork, were all-consuming for the viewer, particularly during flashback sequences. Suffice to say, these student filmmakers show that age is not limiting. They have reinterpreted this genre of film for young viewers, but older viewers can take something from this too - a degree of nostalgia for police dramas, new and old, as the world is put to rights by way of an old car and some quick thinking.

The Arsonist is a great film to further kickstart these filmmaker's careers with its sharp script and a camera style that is cleverly considered. It will be great to see future work from all of them as it only promises to get even better.


The Arsonist is available to watch on PrimeVideo now. Watch the trailer here:



The UK Film Review Podcast - artwork

Listen to our
Film Podcast

Film Podcast Reviews

Get your
Film Reviewed

Video Film Reviews

Watch our
Film Reviews

bottom of page