Posted August 2, 2012 by Sam Haysom in DVD/Blu-ray
 
 

Elfie Hopkins


Elfie Hopkins attempts to combine elements of horror and comedy with a quirky indie vibe

Elfie Hopkins attempts
to combine elements of horror and comedy with a quirky indie vibe and fails on
all three counts.
The film
changes its tone and genre so frequently and erratically it makes your head
spin – at certain points the offbeat characters and their relationships attempt
to echo the likes of Brick or even Kick Ass; some moments act as
a tribute to Hammer Horror. At other points, the script tries, unsuccessfully, to
work in a forced sense of humour. Although this combination of genres could
have been interesting, in Elfie Hopkins, they jar with each other rather than
working together. The result is a film that misses the mark completely.

Set in a small
village in England, the action revolves around the title character Elfie
(played by Jamie Winstone), an unusual (and largely annoying) teenager
who begins investigating her new neighbours after she sees them behaving
suspiciously. This plot is loosely brought together by a script which doesn’t
exactly make for easy viewing; the dialogue comes across as forced and
unnatural, the characters and their relationships aren’t properly developed
and some scenes don’t flow particularly well with each other. At times, it
almost feels like we’ve missed key scenes or moments entirely as various
characters are thrust awkwardly into the plot and their individual back-stories
are tacked on almost as an afterthought. There’s even a pointless cameo from Ray
Winstone
thrown in for good measure.

The characters
themselves are something of a mixed bag. Elfie Hopkins has clearly been written
with a feisty, neo-noir heroine in mind but her mannerisms and the language
she uses simply come across as irritating. Her companion Dylan is certainly an
improvement (and he’s played well by Aneurin Barnard) but his character
still feels a bit on the two-dimensional side. Elfie’s mysterious neighbours
however are more interesting – Rupert Evans gives a fairly solid
performance as Mr. Gammon and the show is almost stolen by Gwyneth Keyworth
in her role as the bizarre and unsettling daughter of the Gammon family.

The other
strength of the film lies in its direction. Ryan Andrews directs the
actors well and uses some interesting shots to create a few memorable moments
in the film. His use of close-ups during dialogue is effective in bringing out
any tension and his often unusual use of camera angles adds a layer of
interest to some otherwise dry scenes.

Unfortunately,
these strengths are not enough to rescue the film. Somewhere, buried deep down
in the film’s awkward script is an interesting concept but it is ultimately
overshadowed by a mish-mash of jumbled and ill-fitting ideas.


Sam Haysom