YOUNG, HIGH AND DEAD (REVIEW)
Dir. Luke Brady
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
When five youths head out to the woods for a night of drug and alcohol fuelled madness they get more than they bargained for. Celebrating the recent engagement between Katy (Hannah Tointon) and Dan (Matthew Stathers), couple John (Philip Barantini) and Jenny (Louisa Lytton) join together with Gary (Nigel Boyle) and set out to the woods bringing along a huge stash of illegal substances.
Setting out for an evening of wild behaviour leads to the finding of discarded child’s clothes. Taking the sight as a hit from the drugs they rest for the night. Awakening to the clanking of chains, each person falls down to a game of trust and friction as the complications between their relationships begin to boil. Antagonising between themselves, it soon becomes apparent the child’s clothes were the remains of a paedophilic killer hiding out in the woods and they are set to be his next victims.
Brutal and tense, YOUNG, HIGH AND DEAD may be the title of a Harold and Kumar horror film, but comedy this is not. Despite setting out in the midst of nowhere, Luke Brady has captured a claustrophobic slasher that paired with a tense score creates some horrifying cinema. Scenes of the distressed running through the woods against the backdrop of Blue Daisy’s brilliant soundtrack has never been so terrifying.
This may be a low budget British film but there are lessons here much bigger studios can take heed from. Believable characters (OK I may be biased being British myself) and using their flaws against them, no ditzy serial killer bate as both Tointon and Lytton lead the way against the macho boys in the camp with the climaxing 15 minutes being a rollercoaster of blood drenched action.
It may drag for the first 30 or so minutes as we see the love interests and childish pranks of the gang result to nothing more than filling space but this is soon forgotten about as the woods become the scene of slasher heaven. Interjecting cuts of the killer within the opening segments creates a faux pas as director Luke Brady could have used the suspense and friction between the youths approaching with a sense of the unknown against the predictability. However, when the action kicks in, this creates a rush of adrenaline without the need for interjected plot twists.
And a special mention has to be made for the rather exquisite titles, both eerie and charming.
YOUNG, HIGH AND DEAD could help with a change in title doing no justice to what is otherwise a very eerie and graphic slasher that’s more akin to the likes of FRONTIER(S) than FRIDAY THE 13TH. Get past the first 30 minutes and what you are left with is a true British treasure.