Spoof Or Die


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Spoof Or Die
"Stacey Gregg has crafted a script that neatly gives us characters and then exposes their flaws."

The mural says "you are in Loyalist East Belfast" but we aren't - those days are gone. Not enough for Craig, however, Craig who's heard stories, stories that have gone to his head. His father works in "security" and his uncle hints at bigger things.

He's got no friends though, is bullied at bus-stops - he's out of time, in a sense, hoping for a return to some-when that was never a golden age. He's played by Ryan McParland; it's a kinetic and compelling turn. He's all angst and rage, and things don't seem to be changing. That's when he meets Nicky (Yasmin Paige) last seen in Submarine - she's moved over from England, and without Craig's romanticised history she's convinced this town is a hole - "This place is rubbish apart from the big Top Shop".

There's an incident at a bus stop - quite an unpleasant one, in fact, and then they decide against going to school. As they talk, hang about, it's pretty clear these kids are wrecks. When an unexplained video is uploaded later that night, his (single) father, Michael Smiley, and her (single) mother, Monica Dolan, join forces to try and find them. There's a lot of a lack of communication, a lot of mysteries - none major, none minor - the answers people make up to questions they haven't asked out loud can lead anyone astray, and here there's plenty of stray to go to. There are a lot of secrets here but some are bigger than others.

Part of Channel Four's Coming Up scheme, first time writer Stacey Gregg has crafted a script that neatly gives us characters and then exposes their flaws. Director Prasanna Puwanarajah manages the action well, with the aid of fight choreographer Bret Young and Coming Up's regular composer Dan Parry. There's also good use of Richard Godwin's song All Stars, but it's visually that Spoof Or Die shows its strength - cunning framing of its characters as we learn about them and they learn about each other. At times it feels like eavesdropping, at others we are reluctant bystanders; there's intimacy where it rewards and distance where that helps. It's an interesting set of perspectives, and the film never forces answers on us - no outcomes, no moral - nor, admittedly, an explanation as to why Nicky's little sister is always dressed as a bunny. Some mysteries aren't meant to be solved, but Spoof Or Die does a good job of showing us what happens when they are.

Reviewed on: 04 Jul 2012
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A troubled Belfast boy befriends an English kid, with disturbing results.

Director: Prasanna Puwanarajah

Writer: Stacey Gregg

Starring: Ryan McParland, Yasmin Paige, Michael Smiley, Monica Dolan

Year: 2012

Runtime: 23 minutes

Country: UK


EIFF 2012

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