“You act, you blag and you check out” – Double Date (Blu-Ray Review)

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Unbearably self-assured, and irritatingly cocksure, one thing Alex (Michael Socha) can boast about is his loyalty to his dearest friend, Jim (Danny Morgan). With the latter’s 30th birthday on the horizon, Alex promises to help get his best friend laid, so he won’t reach this unwelcome milestone a virgin. They muster up the courage to organise a double date with sisters Kitty (Kelly Wenham) and Lulu (Georgia Groome), but little do the boys know, their company for the evening are twisted serial killers, and have other plans for their night ahead. As Jim and Lulu strike up a genuine bond, his future rests entirely on her conscience, and whether or not she’ll betray her sister and warn Jim and Alex of their nefarious intentions.

Double Date starts off with an almost nod to Hammer Horror films before quickly changing gear to a bloody affair and an opening credit sequence that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a grindhouse style setting.  From there, it’s a strictly British horror film with strong performances and a rich vein of humour coupled with an entertaining and engaging story of friendship under stressful circumstances.

Michael Socha, familiar to fans of This is England and Being Human, delivers a self-assuredly humorous performance as the over-confident Alex to Danny Morgan’s Jim, filled with neuroses as his 30th birthday approaches and the polar opposite to his best friend.

Kitty and Lulu are played by Kelly Wenham and Georgia Groome, respectively.  They may be a pair of killers, but that doesn’t stop these sisters from arguing, panicking and generally doing everything that you’d expect of two siblings relying on each other.

Double Date works well as a buddy movie, but really picks up when it shifts gears to the horror genre.  Socha’s alpha-male persona contrasted with Morgan’s awkward insecurity make for a perfect teaming, whilst Wernham’s effortless charisma is countered by the nervous energy of Lulu.  The friendships of the two pairs are well written and, as the story develops and the stakes are raised, we find that Lulu and Jim are drawn closer together as the truth of the serial killing sisters comes out.

Danny Morgan’s intelligently constructed screenplay makes the most of the dynamic between the characters and the situation, adding depth to them as the story develops.  We find what drives Kitty and why Lulu stays so close to her, whilst the friendship between Jim and Alex is equally well developed and explored. All this whilst Morgan delivers a screenplay that runs the gamut of comedy, even touch on slapstick, whilst also giving us the horror that isn’t all blood-and-guts and still manages to convey a sense of terror.

Being a British film that straddles comedy and horror with deftness, there are elements of that cringeworthy humour that made series such as The Office and The Inbetweeners so popular.  The visit to Jim’s embarrassing family whilst he’s feeling the effects of the drugs he’s taken, the recurring moments of Alex saying inappropriately suggestive things in the wrong environment and Alex being surrounded by strong women who counter his unflappable machismo.

Beautifully filmed, with touches of Dario Argento, and making full use of the surround sound experience, with a bass-heavy soundtrack from GOAT and a performance from Big Narstie, Double Date is a wonderfully dark comedy-horror that is adult in all the right ways. Morgan takes what we’ve come to expect from the stalker/slasher horror genre and turns it on his head whilst still giving us characters that the viewer can get behind and a finale that is as unexpectedly amusing yet still touching as it is shocking.

With cameos from Big Narstie, Robert Glenister and Dexter Fletcher, Double Date succeeds at being a highly entertaining comedy horror with plenty to keep fans of both genres entertained.

The BluRay includes a rather comprehensive, occasionally sweary, deprecating and funny commentary from cast and crew that is well worth the time.  It’s got that whole conversation feel, whilst still being informative and entertaining. Also on the disc are an image gallery, deleted scenes that would have broken the flow of the film and a Making Of…  featurette. The Making Of… featurette runs for just over thirty minutes and gives insight into the creative process and Morgan’s inspirations as well as the film-making process. Very much like the commentary, it’s an entertaining addition to the disc and more than the “everything was great” that we normally see from this sort of feature.

Dir: Benjamin Barfoot

Scr: Danny Morgan

Cast: Danny Morgan, Georgia Groome, Michael Socha, Big Narstie, Kelly Wenham

Prd: Matt Wilkinson

DOP: Laura Bellingham

Country: United Kingdom

Year: 2017

Runtime: 89 mins

Double Date is out on DVD, BluRay and digital download from 9th September.

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