Film Review: Mindhorn

Director Sean Foley’s Mindhorn is an inventive, silly, and very amusing comedy.

Richard Thorncroft is a washed-up actor, most famous for playing a detective with a robot eye that can ‘see the truth’. When a serial killer says he will only speak to Detective Mindhorn, Thorncroft must return to the Isle of Man to work with the police…

Written by Julian Barratt and Simon Farnaby, the premise of Mindhorn is an amusing one. A has-been actor from television show is called to reprise his famous character in order to help police catch a killer. Humour works on a number of levels. The premise of both the film and the fictional television show provides a lot of humour. Furthermore, there is the character of Richard and his interactions with others. This is particularly the case with the ragtag group of former colleagues. Finally, the narrative offers lots to laugh at. The latter half of the film is a bit more serious, as naturally is the case with a film of this sort. Yet the filmmakers are able to generate laughs even in dire circumstances.

The setting of Mindhorn works well. Isle of Man seems like the perfect location for the plot. The setting needed to be parochial in order to generate the sort of action that unfolds. The narrative makes the most of its setting, offering a landscape that is beautiful is some places, and drab in others. The film is well paced, with the action unfolding steadily. Costumes are good, especially in recreating an 80s look for the television show segments.

Julian Barrett is amusing as ever as the title character. He plays the role with the requisite charm and flippancy required. Andrea Riseborough, Russell Tovey, and Essie Davis are decent. There are good appearances from actors in minor roles, including Steve Coogan.

The film has sufficient heart to balance the absurdity of the action. This is a winning formula. Mindhorn is a genuinely entertaining comedy.

Film Review: The Babadook

The Babadook

Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook is a horror that successful generates a pervading atmosphere of unease. The film delivers the chills effectively.

Widowed Amelia is still coming to terms with the sudden death of her husband several years ago. Amelia struggles to cope with the erratic behaviour of her son Samuel, who is convinced there is a monster in their house…

Writer-director Jennifer Kent’s take on the haunted house narrative is a nervy experience that should sate horror fans looking for a Halloween fix. The Babadook features a narrative that keeps viewers engaged, and enough scares to keep them on their toes.

One of the film’s strong points is its narrative. Initially appearing to be standard haunted house fare, the film develops beyond this as it progresses. There are sufficient red herrings in The Babadook to keep audiences guessing. The film seems like it is heading in a certain direction to begin with, but Kent wisely subverts this. The lack of predictability in the film is refreshing.

Pacing in The Babadook is great. The film effectively introduces the background of the family, allowing certain issues to come into play later in the narrative. There are some familiar tropes in the film, but these do not detract from the overall enjoyment. There are enough jumpy moments in The Babadook to have a lasting effect.

Essie Davis is solid as Amelia. Her exhaustion is effectively conveyed. Noah Wiseman is also good as Samuel. Sound design in the film is very effective. Art direction gives The Babadook a distinctive look. There is something earthy, bordering on grimy, that works well with the overall feel of the film.

The Babadook is a successful horror thanks to the atmosphere it generates. Jennifer Kent wisely chooses not to reveal all in the film, giving audiences something to ponder as they depart.