The Acid House Trilogy


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Acid House
"Instead of curbing Welsh's excesses, he platforms them. The result, with the exception of The Granton Star Cause, is unwatchable." | Photo: Courtesy of EIFF

Advertised as "100% pure Irvine Welsh", this three-hander implies that John Hodge's adaptation of Trainspotting was a girl's blouse. Make no mistake, undiluted Welsh hurts in a bad way. And there's no fun in that. The Granton Star Cause is coming from somewhere else. It has surreal black humour and a wonderfully witty camera style. Maurice Roeves, as God, in a role Sean Connery turned down, is almost worth the price of a ticket and Welsh's dialogue captures the comic phrasing of Edinburgh's working class to a f***ing tee. My Name Is Joe sounds polite in comparison.

It tells of 23-year-old Boab's (Stephen McCole) day of judgment. He's dropped from the footie team, told to find a place of his own by mum and dad, given the boot by his girl, arrested and beaten up in jail, made redundant from his job and meets God in a pub who calls him "a lazy, apathetic, slovenly c**t." It gets worse. It gets funnier than worse. After this, the humour is too dark to find.

Copy picture

A Soft Touch has a performance by Garry McCormack that scrapes the scab off acceptability, expressing sexual violence in a way that makes you want to join a monastery.

Johnny (Kevin McKidd) marries slut-of-the-month Catriona (Michelle Gomez) when she's eight months pregnant. Once the baby's born, she's happy to let Johnny daughter-sit while she goes out on the town.

After unemployed chancer, Larry (McCormack), moves in upstairs, it's only a matter of minutes before he and Catriona are at it like ferrets. The story has no soul-saving attributes. Nice guys are screwed, sluts get dumped and aggressive bastards prevail.

The Acid House is the last of the three stories and the least convincing, despite a bravura performance from Ewan Bremner. The idea is undeveloped and hardly worth the spleen it feeds off.

Coco Bryce (Bremner), a potential football hooligan, takes acid and during a thunderstorm somehow switches places with an upper middle class enwombed baby. The plot has minor league horror movaie potential, with minimal logic and no jokes. The posh parents are whine fodder and Bryce a monster in nerd's apparel. The baby, who talks Cocoshite, is Chucky (the doll from horror flick movie Child's Play), reconstituted.

Faced with 100% Welsh and Danny Boyle's dilution of same, there is no contest. Trainspotting puts entertainment first. Paul McGuigan is a documentary maker who specialises in teen grit. He does not judge, he interprets.

Instead of curbing Welsh's excesses, he platforms them. The result, with the exception of The Granton Star Cause, is unwatchable. If art is a reflection of life, the stains on The Acid House diagnose a sickness.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
Share this with others on...
The Acid House Trilogy packshot
Three stories told atypically - through Irvine Welsh's prose.
Amazon link

Director: Paul McGuigan

Writer: Irvine Welsh

Starring: Ewen Bremner, Martin Clunes, Jemma Redgrave, Arlene Cockburn, Jane Stabler, Irvine Welsh

Year: 1998

Runtime: 102 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


EIFF 2019

Search database: