Kill Keith, 2011.
Directed by Andy Thompson.
Starring Keith Chegwin, Marc Pickering, Susannah Fielding and Tony Blackburn.
Candidates to replace the lead anchor of breakfast show Up the Crack of Dawn start dying mysterious deaths. Who could possibly be behind them?
There’s a serial killer on the loose, killing candidates to host a breakfast show. A serial killer. A serial killer. A cereal killer. Get it?
I read that joke in a Horrible Histories book as a kid, laughing until my stomach ached. There was a cartoon of a man with a crazed look in his eye, hunched over a bowl of cereal, holding a knife in his hand instead of a spoon. “I could murder a bowl of cornflakes,” read the caption.
But that was a single cartoon drawing, when I was nine or ten. This is a 90 minute film.
The narrative chooses Danny (Marc Pickering) as its focus, despite him being the most uninteresting of the cast. He works as a runner on Up the Crack of Dawn, a fictional breakfast show. This joke is doubly funny because a) it brings to mind someone’s bottom, b) the female anchor is named Dawn (Susannah Fielding).
The development of Danny and Dawn’s relationship is positioned as the film’s emotional hook, but it’s only ever rusty and blunt. The scenes between them are strained, the ‘dramatic’ pauses being only slightly less empty than those of G.C.S.E. improvisation lessons. Pickering can never quite settle on the right facial expression, and Fielding is confined by her character’s two-dimensionality. The fault seems to lie with the director, Andy Thompson, who appears more interested in the film’s cheap special effects.
Although basing an entire film around a pun (the serial killer) is rather dumb, it could work in a hokey way. After all, movies have been made about less. But then why give Danny and Dawn the bulk of the story? No one will watch this film for the prospect of their burgeoning romance. People want to see Keith Chegwin and Joe Pasquale and Tony Blackburn get hacked to pieces. Not out of hate for them, mind, but for a loving nostalgia. It’s simply an extension of seeing them on Bush Tucker Trials; a novelty.
Chegwin, Pasquale, Blackburn – these are the potential candidates for the soon-to-be-vacated male anchor position opposite Dawn on the show. However, the candidate list gradually shortens as its names suffer gruesome, breakfast-themed deaths (drowning in a swamp of porridge; being shot, execution-style, whilst wearing a cereal packet for a hood).
The gore – which alongside the C-list celebrity names should be the film’s main hook – is perfectly fine when kept to the prosthetics. But Adobe After Effects has been the ruin of many an independent and student film. There is an over reliance on low-grade computer generated graphics in Kill Keith, similar to the countless fan-made Halo films scattered across YouTube. But whilst they have a certain charm, Kill Keith comes across tacky. The CGI in Gareth Edwards’ Monsters looked so good because of its subtlety, not because its resources were much greater. That Kill Keith is a gimmick film, only for fun, should be no excuse.
The hollowness of the CGI extends to its pop culture references, which allude to everything and nothing in particular. ‘Danny Danger’ is the protagonist’s alter ego, who appears in the occasional day dream sequence. There’s an action parody scene where he runs down a work corridor, dodging CGI bullets with an automatic rifle hanging from his shoulder; a noir one, later on, as he drives Dawn home from the studio. There are no actual jokes here, merely references of a genre’s visual style. There is little difference between these scenes and the humour of Meet the Spartans, Date Movie, et al.
It’s regrettable that the film’s most intriguing character, and its namesake, is treated almost as an afterthought to Danny and Dawn’s love story. Keith Chegwin plays unhinged remarkably well, as once seen in his performance in Extras. Perhaps it’s that we’re not used to his frown. All the light disappears when Keith doesn’t smile, and his eyes seem to fill with a darkened hate. He plays both the happy morning show presenter and the psychotic murderer in Kill Keith, showcasing the gulf between the two.
But he isn’t in the film long enough, and it drags without him there. The premise, although idiotic, could have worked if treated with a more serious, darkly comic edge. Instead, Kill Keith feels as though it were made by the team behind some ‘lads’ magazine, like Scrotum or Wildlife Enclosure, full of puns more tiresome than a tabloid’s, effects less realistic than an Internet forum’s Photoshop meme. But then again, if you like those things, you might get a kick or two.
Flickering Myth Rating: Film N/A / Movie *