Young, High and Dead Movie Review

Written by Joel Harley

Directed by Luke Brady, Jonathan Brady (co-director), Daniel Fenton (co-director) and Thabo Mhlatshwa (co-director)
Written by Luke Brady
2013, 89 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)

Hannah Tointon as Katy
Louisa Lytton as Jenny
Philip Barantini as John
Matthew Stathers as Dan


Just how cheap are ex-soapstars to hire, these days? Because I've a script that's right up Curly Watts' (Coronation) street. Judging by the presence of Louisa Lytton and Hannah Tointon in Young, High and Dead, it can't be all that much, it being one of the cheapest-looking horror films I've seen in recent years. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Or with ex-soapstars. After all, that Thor fellow isn't doing too badly for himself.

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Celebrating the impending nuptials of one of their number, a group of young fellows head to the woods for a weekend of camping, boozing and getting themselves well and truly stoned. Young, High and Dead is a film, as they say, that does just what it says on the tin. When our heroes inadvertently pitch up next to the would-be burial site of a kidnapped child, we have the recipe on our hands for a traditional slasher bloodbath. Only this time, with ex soap-opera actresses. Tointon already has genre form, with the fine The Children on her CV. Lytton, meanwhile, is best known for playing gangster's daughter Ruby Allen in Eastenders. Not in a dodgy way (we were both about the same age at the time) but I had harboured something of a crush on Ruby during her stint on Albert Square, so her presence here is not an unwelcome one.

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While the budgetary constraints do make Young, High and Dead hard going at times, it is dark and nasty enough that horror fans shouldn't be too put off. There is some padding (it takes far too long to get anyone killed) and the acting is dodgy in places, but it's mean enough in spirit that its flaws should be forgiven in the name of low-budget horror cinema. British through and through (you don't get much more British than drinking Kronenberg lager in the freezing cold English woods) it's an enjoyably independent bit of homegrown horror.

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As Gary's big box of drugs comes out to play, our young friends begin to bicker and fight. I've been camping myself – the night just isn't complete without a massive argument and someone storming off to bed, both pissed off and pissed up. Come the morning, none of them are particularly well-equipped to deal with the dangerous psychopath intent on murdering the lot of them. The battle that follows is violent, surreal and impressively mean-spirited. The shaky camerawork obscures too much of the action, and one scene between Lytton and the killer came very close to giving me a headache, but it's otherwise surprisingly well done.

Detractors of low-budget horror will no doubt be unimpressed, but fans of indie cinema should find plenty to enjoy otherwise. Gritty, mean and inventive, it's inherently British and refreshingly good.


Movie: 3 Star Rating Cover

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Joel Harley
Staff Reviewer
Haribo fiend, Nicolas Cage scholar and frequently functioning alcoholic. These are just some of the words which can be used to describe Joel Harley. The rest, he uses to write film criticism for Horror DNA and a variety of websites and magazines. Sometimes he manages to do so without swearing.
Other articles by this writer



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