VOD film review: Deny Everything
Matthew Turner | On 17, Jan 2018
Director: Michael Eden
Cast: Patrick Knowles, Dominic Leeder, Spencer Burrows, Laurence Kennedy
Watch Deny Everything online in the UK: Amazon Prime / Amazon Instant Video
It’s clear from this low-budget British buddy comedy that debut writer-director Michael Eden has seen Weekend at Bernie’s (and its flogging-a-dead-horse sequel) more times than can be considered healthy. Sadly, however, despite the best intentions of all involved, Deny Everything falls short in terms of ideas, pacing and comic chemistry – and, crucially, fails to deliver any big laughs.
The film begins with a promising set-up. Bumbling idiot Jeff (Dominic Leeder) lugs a wrapped-in-plastic dead body through a park and turns up on the doorstep of permanently annoyed office worker Frank (Patrick Knowles), invoking a drunken friendship pact that involves helping him dispose of the body, no questions asked.
As the moronic pair attempt to ditch the corpse, they enlist the aid of zany mutual acquaintance Richie (Spencer Burrows), but he proves less than helpful and soon they have more bodies on their hands. Meanwhile, Frank’s shady Irish neighbour, Mr. Ashby (Laurence Kennedy) , lays claim to one of the corpses and pursues the trio.
Leeder, Knowles and Burrows are all decent actors, but they’re given just one note each to play (angry, dopey and zany, respectively) and the hoped-for comic chemistry fails to materialise. That said, they do have the occasional individual moment, such as Richie accidentally framing himself for murder in a hardware store.
The main problem is that the script feels painfully under-developed – there’s no character development whatsoever, and the central relationships are both poorly defined and unconvincing. Part of that is down to the lack of chemistry between the three leads, but it makes it difficult to believe that they would even be friends in the first place. (The script doesn’t help in that regard, either, as the detail of the “friendship pact” appears to underscore the fact that they don’t know each other all that well.)
On top of that, the script lacks both wit and imagination, failing to exploit its farcical premise and not even bothering to provide an explanation for where the first body comes from. To be fair, the film is aware of some of its plot-holes and gets a decent gag out of filling one of them in. Unfortunately, though, the script’s problems are compounded by sluggish pacing and over-indulgent editing that allows scenes to run on way too long, when the essential ingredients for farce are a high sense of comic energy, a frantic pace and a sense of escalation, combined with a constant stream of twists and turns. In the end, despite the committed performances of the leads, the best Deny Everything can manage is to raise the occasional smile.
Deny Everything is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.