A bit of personal history before the review

Back in 2001, I used to knock about with a bunch of lads that I worked with at the local supermarket.  Among them were the two lunatics that worked in the customer restaurant, Luke and Trevor.

On several occasions, I’d pop into the kitchen to see how they were doing and they would be throwing potatoes at one another seeing if they could slice them midair with a carving knife – a bit like that vampire hunting Blade fella I guess, but with vegetables and without the same amount of skill.

As I got to know them better, I’d hear stories about how they’d both go out for the day, get drunk and film the consequences.

I had the privilege of seeing several of these short films.  One involved Trevor diving into a fountain during a day trip to France and smashing his head open (I believe he still has the scars).

Another, saw them go to Box Hill, a local rural spot where in the surrounding woods they stumbled onto a grass snake. Trevor then drunkenly attempted to navigate the stepping stones across the River Mole.  It didn’t end well, he fell in, head first – on the third step if I recall correctly.

Over the years, I lost contact with Trevor and Luke. But earlier this year through the magic of social media I stumbled upon Lukes name in the credits of an upcoming horror film.

The Review

yhd-03

As it turns out, Luke Brady has progressed on massively from these comical Jackass-esque shorts and along with a production crew which includes 3 other co-directors, they have put together a low budget yet solid horror flick which wears it’s influences proudly on its chest.

I like to think that the trip to Box Hill served as an early inspiration for Young High and Dead, but I’m probably way off there.

The film tells the story of five friends who head into the woods for a weekend of drug fuelled fun to celebrate the engagement of Katy (Hannah Tointon) and Dan (Matthew Stathers).

When it becomes apparent that they have pitched up next to the grave of a local missing child, things take a turn for the worse as their relationships are tested through the drug induced paranoia and the teasing and menacing arrival of the child’s killer.

With the script offering a bunch of believable characters, the cast fit their roles like a glove.

Hollyoaks Hannah Tointon is endearing as the recently engaged Katy, while former East Ender Louisa Lytton puts in a solid performance as the troubled Jenny. Matthew Stathers and Phillip Barantini play Dan and John respectively, while Nigel Boyle puts in a comical yet credible performance as Gary, the individual who provides the drugs for the groups celebration.

Anyone who has ordered a pint and some nuts from a snooty landlord in the middle of the country will appreciate Gary’s introduction to the film.

yhd-04

Technically, considering it’s low budget the film is a success. With limbs getting lobbed off and blood spurting left, right and center (and on the screen), visually the film holds up well with against its larger budget counterparts. The production team have employed some nifty editing tricks in places that establish where are characters are and how much peril they really are in.

Making fine use of some prosthetics and practical effects, the horror on display here has certain whiffs of Peter Jackson’s early work.

The sound editing is a bit rough in places, but considering all the foley work was done by Luke Brady with just his iPhone the effort here is to be commended. With every bone crunch and limb getting sawn off, the sound design does its job in making the audience wince at just the right moments.

The soundtrack by Blue Daisy is worth a nod too. With the ominous synth loops pulsating through out the film, Blue Daisy’s work builds upon the dread and increases the tension to unbearable levels. Think Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (Social Network and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) doing a score for a 1970s grind house horror and you should have a good idea of what you are in for.

Young High and Dead is not without it’s problems.

As already mentioned, the sound editing is a bit rough. However, the films biggest problem is the pacing and it takes a fair while for things to properly kick off. That being said, the earlier scenes of the group are quite amusing and do offer some light relief in contrast to the chilling glimpses that we see of the baleful child killer.

Once the action does get going, the film rarely lets up and what follows is an enjoyable, action packed, swiftly paced and unnerving third act.

On a separate note, it’s also nice to see a British film that doesn’t paint it’s characters as Danny Dyer clones or Guy Ritchie’esque inspired wannabes.

yhd-02

Overall, Young High and Dead is a solid and gritty horror film that is not afraid to pull punches.

It may be a bit rough around the edges and bloated in places, but Luke Brady’s script, along with some solid acting and a fair amount of blood and gore, mean that there is plenty here to enjoy for horror fans.

As independent first efforts go, it’s a worthy one and we look forward to seeing what Luke Brady and the rest of the production team do from here.

Verdict: [rating=4]

Young High and Dead is out now and can be viewed exclusively in the UK on Vimeo On Demand.

Young High and Dead is due for US release on 31st October 2013.

For more information about Young, High and Dead:

Official Website | Podcast on the Production by Luke Brady | Twitter | Facebook

About The Author

Colin lives in south west London. Looks like a hobbit and has been watching films ever since he saw Return of the Jedi at the age of 3. You can follow Colin on Twitter @obicolkenobi.