(director/writer: Staten Cousins-Roe; cinematographer: James Layton; editor: Staten Cousins-Roe/Poppy Roe; music: Laurence Love Greed; cast: Katie Brayben (Lou Farnt), Poppy Roe (Val Stone), Sarah Ball (Maureen Farnt), Ben-Lloyd Hughes (Chuck Knoah), Tomiwa Edun (Ben), Sinead Matthews (Izzy), Owain Rhys Davies) (Marcus), Carys Lewis (Rachel), Sian Clifford (Cynthia); Runtime: 81; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Giles Alderson/Charity Wakefield/Poppy Roe/Staten Cousins-Roe; Forward Motion Pictures; 2019-UK)

“A wacky horror comedy that loses its way after making its valid point.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This Kickstarter funded existential movie is Staten Cousins-Roe’s feature debut. He’s the writer, producer, director and editor. It’s a wacky horror comedy that loses its way after making its valid point, and seemed too tepid for a film meant to be fiery.

Lou (Katie Brayben) is an unhappy and lonely 30-something resident of a sleepy seaside town outside of Brighton, living in a modest home with her nagging, unbearable mum (Sarah Ball). She is holding-down a dull dead-end shop assistant job. The only possibilities of escaping the rut she’s in draws Lou to self-help books, CDs and videos. She references smooth talker American pop-culture self-help con artist guru Chuck Knoah (Ben Lloyd-Hughes) whenever she feels she’s losing it and needs help expressing herself.

Attending a local self-help therapy session the sad sack Lou meets the confident and rising in popularity self-help guru Val (Poppy Roe, the director’s romantic partner) and they make a teacher-pupil connection. Val vows to help the timid Lou overcome her lack of confidence if they go on a road trip together across the UK and if Lou would be open to change her ways after visiting Chuck’s home in the UK and several popular therapists with different areas of expertise on gaining self-awareness (like tree huggers & those advocating various yoga positions as exercises). They will encounter on their trip leading bullshit therapists (Carys Lewis, Tomiwa Edun and Owain Rhys Davies) and discover they all want Lou to follow only their methods. This angers Val, who wants her pupil to develop her own way of living. Which justifies Val, in her own eyes, of being a serial killer who knocks off these guru frauds while giving the suddenly reborn Lou new life to feel good about being herself.

By the third act the absurd plot has run its course and there’s no where to go but downhill, as the laughs are replaced by all the bloody violence encountered and the filmmaker not knowing how to get out of this predicament in a rational way but to allow the characters not to be viewed as real people but as symbols.  

The pic seems to be a tamer version of the similarly themed Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers.

roe and brayben

REVIEWED ON 10/1/2019       GRADE: B-