Directed by Robert Quinn, starring Andrew Scott, Kelly Reilly, Darren Healy, Sean McGinley and Gerard McSorley.
Deluged as we are with so called ‘suspense thrillers’ from the US and elsewhere, it is something of a novelty to be presented with one of our own. Of course that doesn’t mean the knives should be any less conspicuous, but it does give one a keener sense of satisfaction to find out that there’s not much need here to go piling on the vitriol.
In other words, ‘Dead Bodies’ isn’t half bad. Surprise may ooze from that sentence, but to be surprised that a low-budget Irish film actually cuts the mustard has nothing to do with perceived inferiority and everything to do with minimal funding.
It is less than 6 months since it was announced that tax relief for film investment in Ireland was being discontinued. Around the same time it was expected that the Irish Film Board would be abolished. That scenario failed to materialise but it was a warning sign that the future for Irish film appeared bleak. But enough of the politics…
‘Dead Bodies’ is ample evidence that the talent is there, if not the funding. Based on a script by new Irish writer Derek Landy, this is a multi-layered and wholly satisfying effort, full of deliciously dark deceit and carried off well by a solid cast and a director on form.
Tommy (Scott) is a self-absorbed young Dubliner who is too concerned about where his own life is going to be in any way capable of positively influencing somebody else’s. So when his even more self-absorbed ex-girlfriend moves back in to give their calamitous coupling one last go, the omens are not good. The rows duly return and after one particularly heated exchange, Tommy flees to cool down. On his return, his ex lies prone and lifeless. Was it an accidental fall or was it caused by his dismissive push?
Panic sets in and Tommy decides to bury her body in the woods. The drama really begins when in his nocturnal endeavours to dispose of the body, he happens across another body. A maze of twists and turns ensue in which Tommy learns he is not the only one with a secret.
With its crisp and clinical look, ‘Dead Bodies’ betrays no signs of its low-budget digital origins. Admittedly, the words ‘Shallow’ and ‘Grave’ might pop in to your head more than once, and the political aspect of the film is unevenly handled, but there's easily enough tension and dark humour to keep you guessing as the finale edges into view.
The performances are solid rather than spectacular - Sean McGinley’s detective is pure caricature territory - but director Robert Quinn keeps the entertainment pedal on full throttle throughout.
All of those involved in ‘Dead Bodies’ can relax in the knowledge that they kept their end of the bargain. Pity the politicians can’t keep theirs.