Hank Boyd is Dead Movie Review
Written by Simon Bland
Released by Bag of Cats Productions
Written and directed by Sean Melia
2014, 76 minutes, Not rated
Stefanie E. Frame as Sarah
David Christopher Wells as David
Liv Rooth as Aubrey
Michael Hogan as Ray
Families, eh? They’re never 100% normal. That’s certainly the case for the unconventional lot in Hank Boyd is Dead, the feature debut of writer/director Sean Melia. For his first foray onto the big screen, Melia paints a twisted and darkly funny tale that boasts a confident cast and steers clear of most of the pitfalls that typically weigh down the work of new talent. No small feat.
The story focuses on Sarah (Stefanie E. Frame), a caterer with the unfortunate job of helping out at a wake held at the home of a family with a dark reputation. Led by patriarch and local cop David (David Christopher Wells), the unit has been associated with a series of grisly murders and shady activity. While notorious in their small town, their links to the local police have so far kept them free from any persecution. However when Sarah accidentally overhears an incriminating conversation between David and his literal partner in crime Ray (Michael Hogan), she suddenly becomes too much of a liability for this overly-paranoid family to let escape. From there on out we witness them slowly unravel as incestuous secrets are revealed and the body count slowly mounts.
Director Melia tells his story in two ways; straight narrative and hindsight documentary complete with Herzog-style off-camera interviewer with a morbid fascination with the family’s past. In between both methods the director also slips in sly cut-aways to (presumably authentic) home movie Super-8 footage to add subtext or help the viewer connect certain dots. In hindsight, this could be perceived as a little too much, weighing the story down with an abundance of stylised choices when the primary narrative is compelling enough. However ‘too much’ is certainly not uncommon in debut horror movies and his cast more than makes up for it. Often the most common issue in shoestring first features is the quality of talent but that isn’t the case with Hank Boyd is Dead. Melia’s leads Frame and Wells turn in confident performances alongside bad cop Hogan, naive sister Aubrey (Liv Rooth) and confused matriarch Beverly (Carole Monferdini) who all carry an air of screen readiness.
Things get a little OTT towards the film’s bloody climax but you get the impression Melia’s more than in on the joke, adding light musical cues that almost provide a knowing wink to the viewer. While by no means perfect, the end product is slightly reminiscent of Wes Craven’s The People Under The Stairs in terms of its homespun insanity. It’ll be interesting to see where this director goes next.