Written and Directed by Peter Stray.
Starring Craig Russell, Sheena Bhattessa, Robert Pugh, Kai Owen, Richard Mylan, and Hannah Danie.
The first wave of an alien invasion coincides with a New Year’s Eve party in the Welsh Valleys.
Canaries opens with of montage that spans over several decades, wherein we see partial glimpses into the existence of UFOs. Though this montage does a good job of setting up the somewhat complex nature of the story, it does so at the expense of character. Our chief protagonist Steve Dennis (Craig Russell) – a DJ by trade and an asshole by nature – doesn’t appear until ten minutes into the film. This late introduction would be more forgivable if the film was a little longer, or if the character wasn’t so generic. Unfortunately, despite an applaudable performance, Russell’s Steve Dennis comes across as little more than your typical ‘lad’. The rest of the cast fall flat in the same way: though everyone performs well, the characters they perform as aren’t at all original. There’s the Mary Sue, the funny best friend, the ex-teacher, even the one night stand. You get the picture.
Furthermore, throughout act one, the script seems to miss its mark, at least where the comedy aspect of the film is concerned. Often, the throwaway lines that were obviously funny in the director’s eyes fail. Though at least they just fall flat, as opposed to becoming downright cringeworthy.
Fortunately, as act two rolls around and the ridiculousness of the situation increases, the dialogue really seems to pick up, and the comedy really shines through. I even found myself laughing out loud at times. What’s more, with the arrival of the Canaries comes a heightened sense of pace, and the blandness of the characters gets overshadowed by plot, action, and even some gnarly, low-budget gore.
The Canaries themselves – raincoat wearing monsters in serious need of a manicure – are a mixed bag. On the one hand, they aren’t in the least bit frightening. On the other, the lore behind them provides the film with its more interesting sci-fi flourishes, and scenes containing them are often the most fun.
It’s fair to say that Canaries has a number of teething problems. However, once those are out of the way, it becomes a genuinely enjoyable sci-fi/horror/comedy flick. England has The World’s End, Ireland has Grabbers, and Wales had Canaries. Your turn, Scotland.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★/Movie: ★ ★ ★
James Turner is a writer and musician based in Sheffield. You can follow him on Twitter @JTAuthor