Reviews

Dead Babies

4

It doesn't take a genius to finger the problem with recent British cinema: tedious opportunism has usurped genuine creativity. Two years after the event, and we're still ducking the misfires and ricochets of countless Lock, Stock lites. So when a low-budget indie like Dead Babies invites the British film industry to bend over and receive the cowprod, grateful isn't even close.

Babies is based on Martin Amis' feel-bad satirical hack at `70s hedonism, and the surprise here is just how alarmingly faithful director William Marsh has been to his source. Alarming because, despite a millennial time shift, it's lost none of its capacity to shock, subvert, jar and excite.

It's impossible to precisely convert the energy of Amis' punk prose, but Marsh gives it a good go with churning hand-helds and nailgun edits (the final trip - all eyezap, headmash and stop-motion snap - is vigorously handled). Although the blipvert horrorshow style gives Babies the doomy, reckless edge of a kamikaze tragedy, it's worth pointing out that the nihilism's played for broad laughs. You either get the joke or you don't, but if you like your comedy like your coffee - thick and black - this ripples with toxic slapstick.

Acting-wise, it's Keith, the binger's court dwarf, who rakes the splutters. With a fizzy-crotched libido and face cornflaked with acne, he's basically a gluttonous, Viz-ish construct of every miserable teenager trapped in the body of a twentysomething. It's a gift of a role, and newcomer Andy Nyman is a genuine find, stealing scenes and scraping a buried pathos out of Keith's otherwise repulsive clowning.

Given Dead Babies' drug-chugged spirit, it comes as no surprise that it's often found guilty for being under the influence of Trainspotting. But for sheer, blistering balls and energy, it makes other recent homegrown movies play like a zombie's hangover.

Verdict:

At last, a wicked, dazzling Brit flick with enough to offend just about everyone. Disgustingly funny, visually fizzy and shot in splendidly bad taste, it's a toxic cult comedy in the making. Snort it up. And bring a bucket.

Film Details

  • 18
  • UK Theatrical Release Date: January 26th 2001

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