Friday gone, I had the opportunity to attend the world premiere of Unhappy Birthday at the British Film Institute’s London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival (LLGFF). Prior to the screening, I took part in an open conversation with the co-directors, on how they got their debut feature film from A to B.
What’s all the fuss about?
Unhappy Birthday is a low-budget film starring Scottish actor David Paisley, of Holby City fame. Paisley who plays Rick, the handsome twenty-something lead takes his girlfriend Sadie along with their friend Jonny, to the remote tidal island of Amen for a surprise birthday party. It is here, that the threesome (in every sense of the word) meet-up with Corinne, a strange and disturbing character. Corinne has convinced Rick through previous contact, that she is the long-lost sister of Sadie, who was separated from her family when she was young. Rick however, has kept this to himself and has taken her to Amen, in the hope the Corinne can shed some light on her past. Apart from the trio establishing that Corinne is in fact ‘not’ Sadie’s sister, her having deliberately lured the three city dwellers to the remote island, their arrival brings about horrific consequences for them all.
My ‘View from the Bottom’…
It’s not everyday you get to attend a directorial debut, never mind a world premiere, but Unhappy Birthday was a genuine pleasure to watch. Considering it was written and produced by co-directors Mark Harriott and Mike Matthews on such a ‘low’ budget (the exact cost I know), it definitely gives the ‘blockbusters‘ a run for their money. The film has both horror and comedy combined together, which actually works. I found myself laughing (out loud) and a bit scared at the same time, which is hard to do in any film – crossing well-defined genres. I too found David Paisley, refreshing and believable as Rick. Naturally, with low-budget films there are often production quality issues and Unhappy Birthday is not exempt, having found the sound distorted in several places. However, the directors (from what I understand) didn’t set-out to compete with Hollywood, so all is easily forgiven. Mark and Mike should be proud of themselves for what they have achieved – they can only improve. They too appear nice people, which makes their success that more celebratory. It will be interesting to see what their next film is about, as I know one is in the pipeline!
Max rating: 3/5 ***
This has been ‘another’ film review, by me Max.
© 2011 Kevin Maxwell Film, Media & Performance – Published by My Mum