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The Culture Club (2020)- Short Film Review


Directed by: #LukeCouch

Written by: #MimHyde

Short Film Review by: Thomas Jay

A Boy George cameo is NOT included.

Directed by Like Couch known for helming: Alone Together, The Culture Club is a fifteen minute short film concerning the messy maiden meeting of a satanic cult, caught on camera by a documentary crew who were granted access to the session.

A simple enough concept, this is executed to a really high degree and has a lot of potential (a point I’ll return to later). With the film crew acting as a surrogate for the audience, Couch and his team manage to mimic the conventions of a documentary quite well and, for the remainder of the short, the camera is a clear and evident presence amongst the group of characters and their proceeding interactions. As a whole the cinematography is excellent, we capture the arrivals of all the major players in a manner that both breaks the fourth wall as well as revealing a number of subtle, key traits of each new arrival, see for instance: the married couple in a slight crisis, a drunk, a yearning single, a lost music fan and a few individuals in competition to see ”who had the hardest childhood” A dialogue that both Sad Boi (Anthony Senior) and the fire loving Lucifer (Ben Hill Brooks) play out with such charisma and character. With the likes of Peter Jackson and Edgar Wright discussing eyeline shots and working with large casts for The World’s End (d. Edgar Wright, 2013), there are some serious A List Directors who stress the difficulty of shooting such scenes and the fact that this short, produced for the Official National Youth Film Academy can both manufacture this complex maze of shots and provide unique and standout characters regardless of how much of a share they get in terms of runtime, is a truly remarkable achievement.

Eventually the group work to the realisation that they must sacrifice a member and set about finding a fitting victim, which highlights my main flaw with this. Marketed as a horror-comedy hybrid, I enjoy the comedy aspects as the slightly surreal Eric Andre elements and the postmodern character comedy seen best in Modern Family (2009-2020) & What We Do in the Shadows (d. Taika Waititi & Jemaine Clement, 2014) the balance feels ripped more towards humour than horror. It’s a very difficult ask to find that perfect balance, hence why the latter two instalments of The Evil Dead Trilogy (1983-1993) are perceived so differently to the video nasty original, but here I feel it slightly detracts from the plot, at least on first viewing. Had I known even the slightest bit more clearly it was more comedy heavy It‘d have probably got the full 5 stars. There isn‘t a lack of substance or anything too majorly detrimental as the characters truly make the film what it is but the reveal of the Cleaner (Grace Le Bachelet) being the puppet master felt a little tacked on, especially as she is then excluded from the final, closing scene. A little inconsistent regarding tone as a result, its likely a subjective issue but one that could have also been completely bashed out with a longer run time which leads me on nicely to the following:

So, for my final point I’ll return to something I mentioned earlier in the opening when regarding potential. This is a very unique and special film, that boats a cast and crew with promising futures and I would genuinely love to see more from this world, Whether or not it features this original cast in full, or has a complete narrative shift I can see this unfolding in maybe a series of episodes or similar short films that make a great long form narrative.

Whether or not it’s picked up on later down the line, there’s a charm and style to this which needs to be seen by the masses, true “lightning in a bottle“ filmmaking and I’d absolutely urge you to commit 15 minutes of your time to this film, available on the YouTube Channel for the National Youth Film Academy.

So, Same Time Next Week? Reviewed by: #TomJay


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