Dir. John Landis
Reviewed by Matt Adcock
Caution – police are looking for two suspected mass murderers possibly hiding in your local cinema. The public are being urged to be vigilant and if you see either of them, only approach if you’re looking for some seriously ‘funny business’.
So John ‘An American Werewolf in London’ Landis is back on the big screen with this fun homage to the Hammer / Ealing black comedy films. This tells the tale of William Burke (Simon ‘Hot Fuzz’ Pegg) and William Hare (Andy ‘Lord of the Rings’ Serkis) whose antics became a bit of a murderous sensation back in the early 19th century. These two grisly entrepreneurs set up a lucrative business opportunity providing the Doctors at Edinburgh's medical schools with fresh bodies for their dissection and research – and when there aren’t any newly dead available, they ‘help’ people on their way to that sad state in order to meet demand...
Burke and Hare takes this wonderfully grim premise – based on real events – and lets Pegg and Serkis have lots of fun with the material. The supporting cast is excellent too, it is especially nice to see Jessica Hynes (née Stevenson from Spaced) reunited with Pegg – although it would have been extra cool if Nick Frost could have been cast here too. It’s not often that you find a film about serial killers randomly dispatching members of the public to order played for laughs. Everything swings along nicely enough, as the two main characters come across not as evil but more as bumbling fools who just happen to stumble into a life of mass murder. Their motives are at least not wholly reprehensible, Burke is smitten with sexy actress Ginny (Isla Fisher - who's perky boobs should be up for a 'best support' Oscar next year - see below), who flirts with him in order to get him to finance her all-female production of MacBeth.
"Isla buy that for a dollar..."
The authorities are presented as absurd thanks to the local militia being led by the ridiculous pint sized Captain McClintock (Ronnie Corbett). As the noose tightens around the necks of the two hero killers you can’t help but be moved by the fact that none of the esteemed doctors who paid for the bodies and didn’t ask any questions about ‘how’ they arrived so fresh are given anything more than a cursory slap on the wrists.
In the end what Burke and Hare delivers is a horror comedy with heart and enough funnies to make it worth a look – especially in the face of the weak Saw 3D or ‘just not scary’ Paranormal Activity 2 for alternative ‘scary’ viewing. Although anyone looking for a more serious and quality scare should be checking ‘Let Me In’ (review next week!).
UNSEEN DELETED SCENE:
Burke and Hare are given a mandate to wipe out all the Scots
Darkmatters rating: öööööö (7 dead for profits out of 10)
Darkmatters quick reference guide: Action 6 / Style 7 / Babes 7 / Comedy 7 / Horror 5 / Spiritual Enlightenment 2