(director: Paul McGuigan; screenwriter: Irvine Welsh/based on short stories from his book “The Acid House”; cinematographer: Alasdair Walker; editor: Andrew Hulme; cast: “The Granton Star Cause”: Stephen McCole (Boab), Jenny McCrindle (Evelyn), Maurice Roeves (God), Garry Sweeney (Kev), Alex Howden (Boab Snr.), Annie Louise Ross (Doreen). “A Soft Touch”: Kevin McKidd (Johnny), Michelle Gomez (Catriona) and Gary McCormack (Larry). “The Acid House”: Ewen Bremner (Coco), Martin Clunes (Rory), Jemma Redgrave (Jenny), Arlene Cockburn (Kirsty); Runtime: 118; Zeitgeist Films; 1998-UK)

“It’s a one-joke film that fails to be amusing almost from the start, and shamefully wastes a talented ensemble cast in such a trite and depressing enterprise.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This nihilist spoof on life in North Edinburgh’s slums (the scrag-end of town) is based on three short stories from Irvine Welsh’ book “The Acid House.” It’s a vulgar, nasty, profane, uninteresting, and futile exercise. Each story is followed by one more raunchy and cheeky; it’s a bad acid house trip with no insights along the way to make this gross venture worthwhile, except it offers the viewer a chance to be a voyeur and get their jollies off watching the vics being humiliated. Its only redeeming feature was its fast-pace, so the agony of watching those being tortured wasn’t prolonged.

Due to the thick Scottish accents, there are subtitles.

In the first story, “The Granton Star Cause,” the hero is a 23-year-old loser, Boab, with no ambition but to play soccer with his pub mates. He has everything fall apart for him in the course of one rotten day. His kick-about amateur football club boots him off the team because he’s not good enough; his parents give him two weeks to find another place to live so that they can have some privacy for kinky sex; his slutty 20-year-old girlfriend Evelyn rejects him because he’s no good in the sack and reacting to that he smashes up a telephone box. The police arrest and work him over with a severe beating in the jail. Finally, he gets the sack in his laborer job in a furniture removal factory due to the firm cutting corners. He then meets a hobo-like bloke in the pub who claims to be God (Roeves). He tells the skeptical Boab that God isn’t dead he just doesn’t give a fuck about what happens to a lazy guy like him. He chews out Boab for being a slob and wasting his life, and punishes him by turning him into a shit-eating house fly. Boab becomes a fly-on-the-wall and visits each of those who contributed to his bad hair day, while buzzing around and acting like a fly who thinks like a human being with revenge on his mind.

In the second vignette, “A Soft Touch,” the action follows the wedding of a sap named Johnny to his pregnant whore bride, Catriona, who has slept with many of the wedding guests. She’s promiscuous and the uncaring mother of their infant girl Chantel, whom he calls his “Little Princess” and dotes after. His wife soon takes up with the new hostile ruffian who moved upstairs, Larry. She makes Johnny’s life unbearable by having loud sex with Larry that Johnny must listen to in their ratty apartment. If that wasn’t enough of a humiliation, they have such contempt for Johnny that the now living together couple viciously beat him up on the unjustifiable pretext he patched up a hole in the ceiling where Larry drilled a hole and dropped an extension cord into his place to steal his electricity.

The last story is the feature one, “The Acid House,” and tells the tale of an idiotic Hibs soccer fanatic and rowdy, Coco Bryce, who is reluctantly engaged to Kirsty. She’s trying her best to rope him into marrying her, and they talk about this in the pub. But Coco excuses himself to hit the toilet where he drops a tab of acid called ‘super mario’ and becomes too bonkers to converse further, and he heads outside alone where he’s struck by lightning. He then by the grace of God swaps personalities with the baby just born to an obnoxious yuppie couple, Rory and Jenny. The baby gets off sucking on the big jugs of Jenny and starts cussing the way Coco normally does, while Coco freaks out in the hospital and is reduced to being in an infantile state and acting even dumber than he usually does.

This surreal film takes a one-dimensional approach to life being shitty, with turds ruling the streets and quiet guys deservedly getting smacked around because they’re weaklings. Its sadistic and juvenile humor is all the film puts on its plate, as it sadly lacks depth, tenderness, or any kind of true psychological edge. It’s a one-joke film that fails to be amusing almost from the start, and shamefully wastes a talented ensemble cast in such a trite and depressing enterprise.

REVIEWED ON 12/26/2001 GRADE: C –

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”