Garth Marenghi's Darkplace

Garth Marenghi's Darkplace


Reviewed by: Keith Hennessey Brown

The basic premise of Garth Marenghi's Darkplace is that in the early 1980s the best-selling horror author (Matthew Holness) and his publisher/publicist, Dean Learner (Richard Ayoade), produced and starred in a six-episode TV series for Channel 4, where they played Dr Rick Dagless MD and hospital administrator Thornton Reed respectively.

Set in a Romford hospital that sits on an inter-dimensional gateway or some such, Darkplace was so controversial that it was buried in the vaults never to be repeated ... until now, with each episode further contextualised via retrospective introduction and interjections from Marenghi and co.

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There's no doubt that Garth Marenghi's Darkplace is a clever meta-fictional concept, oh-so ironic and post-modern, but it's also one that emerges as somewhat too clever and cynical for its own good, with that continual sense of being a too-conscious attempt at manufacturing a cult series, whereby flattering the commissioning executives and delivering the right target demographic to advertisers are more important than actually saying anything.

In other words, it's something that's just as formulaic in terms of contemporary TV as the kind of James Herbert/Guy N. Smith/Sean Hutson style horror it parodies was twentysomething years ago.

It also leads, alas, to that continual sense of doublethink about the whole exercise, whereby if something is just crap, well that was the intention. We win, you lose, and everything is recuperated within the system, with no possibility of discussion outwith its frame of reference.

Now, don't get me wrong - I liked it better than I thought I would, and found much of it pretty damn funny, but just wished it had been a bit more self-critical and questioning of its audience and institutions.

Reviewed on: 20 Oct 2006
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Horror hospital spoof gets the DVD treatment.
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Director: Richard Ayoade

Writer: Richard Ayoade and Matthew Holness

Starring: Matthew Holness, Richard Ayoade, Matt Berry, Alice Lowe, Stephen Merchant, Julian Barratt, Kim Noble, Graham Linehan, Adrian Sturges

Year: 2004

Runtime: 144 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


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