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RJ Bayley Reviews: Bad Acid

by RJ Bayley

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I’m trying to be as impartial as possible in this review, but as a proud Yorkshireman (as proud as one whose chosen to live in Scotland can be, anyway), writer/director David Chaudoir’s (read Chief Grave Digger Cara’s interview with him in Popcorn Horror magazine) Bad Acid was always going to start off on the right foot with me. It tells the tale of Marvin Maskelyn, a washed up Yorkshire TV psychic in a Derek Acorah meets Ian D. Montfort vein. The film is wonderfully observed, the standout component being Tristan Beint as Marvin himself who paints a figure whose tragic enough to be pitiable, amusing enough to be entertaining, but bitter enough to deserve his comeuppance.

The setting and story are inseparably entwined, the desperation and air of a faded glory that perhaps never even was, feeding into each other from both the surroundings and the events. The working clubs are convincingly sad, making Marvin’s mockery even sadder. There’s also a very specific kind of dour, stoic humour on display which is so synonymous with the region.

The story is very clearly a riff on the old monkey’s paw tale, even down to him acquiring his means of magical power from a bazaar full of arcane curiosities. But the setting, the confidence of Chaudoir’s writing and the character allow Bad Acid to boldly wear it’s modern day monkey’s paw motif on its sleeve and still come off feeling reverential yet wholly original.

It’s a strange dichotomy in film criticism that one is able to critique one film for shoddy special effects, but then commend another with ‘A for effort’, especially in the realms of independent filmmaking, and it’s often totally unquantifiable and inconsistent reasoning behind it. The Evil Dead films never had good SFX for example, even for their time, yet there’s a sense that Raimi and co. went ‘all in’ and tried to push their visuals to the very limit. Here, the addition of a CGI djinn is to be commended too. It looks like something out of a cutscene from Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, but the sheer balls for an independant film to try a full on CGI monster is something I doff my cap to. It’s also evident that the artistic craftsmanship from all involved (and I do include genie-makers Josh George and Adam Vrijland) that it ably compensates for any feeling of videogame dejavu.

Bad Acid is a great film caught somewhere between Tales from the Crypt and Phoenix Nights. BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky, won’t somebody please recruit all involved to make a TV series out of this?

★★★★★

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