Hungerford Movie Review
Written by Joel Harley
Released by Wildseed Studios
Directed by Drew Casson
Written by Drew Casson and Jesse Cleverly
2014, 79 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
Drew Casson as Cowen Rosewell
Georgina Bradley as Philippa Martell
Sam Carter as Kipper
Tom Scarlett as Adam Martell
When aliens invade a small English town, a gang of teenage friends attempt to survive the onslaught. Thankfully, they’re on hand to film the whole thing, as Cowen Rosewell (played by director, Drew Casson) is recording it all as part of his BTEC homework. Yes, it’s found footage, but stick with it, because this one’s actually quite good.
A surprisingly funny and touching British sci-fi/horror/drama hybrid, Hungerford is living proof that there’s life in the old subgenre yet. A cross between World’s End, Invasion of the Body Snatchers and [REC], it charmingly combines real feeling and charm with big-budget action and scares to create something strikingly different from the rest of the handheld chaff.
Much of the reason for its success comes from Casson’s decision not to cut away from any of the good stuff. Too often, found footage films will spend the first eighty minutes fumbling around in the dark before a quick reveal at the end shows us a brief glimpse of what we tuned in to see in the first place. In Hungerford, the camera rarely shies away from the goods. Some of what the film is showing doesn’t entirely work, but it’s admirable that they tried.
Early scenes between the young cast are reminiscent of Shaun of the Dead, and although the film never goes for out-and-out comedy, it’s remarkably funny at times – a welcome change from the bickering and screeching which tends to populate most low-budget found footage movies. Writers Casson and Jess Cleverly have a good ear for dialogue, using it to craft a core of four distinctive, likeable characters in a relatively short space of time. This pays off when the horror/sci-fi elements come into play, ensuring that we still care even once the story enters more clichéd territory. Make no mistake, the recurring problems with the subgenre are still there (including a third act set in a dingy basement and an overfamiliar ending) but they’re hidden better than most. It does attempt to justify the camera’s constant presence with Cowen’s BTEC and his “we film everything” line once the invasion has begun in full, but that logic falters once the group film themselves covering up a very serious crime.
After watching so many variations on the same film, I have become tired of typing out the same review over and over again. Thankfully, that wasn’t required for Hungerford, which is fresh and intelligent enough that it manages to avoid many stale genre subgenre tropes. Sure, it’s cheap, and some of the acting is a bit duff (an amusing policeman character is let down by the dodgy performance driving it) but the sense of energy and ambition on show makes it a hard film to dislike.
Directed by nineteen-year-old Casson, Hungerford is a charmingly homegrown addition to a lagging subgenre, brimming with ideas and personality. Like its young director, Hungerford is one to watch.