May I Kill U? DVD Review
Written by Joel Harley
DVD released by Cyclops Vision
Written and directed by Stuart Urban
2013, Region 2 (PAL), 87 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
Released theatrically on 11th January 2013
Kevin Bishop as Baz
Jack Doolan as Seth
Frances Barber as Bernice
Hayley-Marie Axe as Val
Kasia Koleczek as Maya
Rosemary Leach as Mags
2012 was a funny old year for UK genre cinema. We had Keith Chegwin and Joe Pasquale fending off a serial killer in Kill Keith, Shane Richie as a horrible pimp in The Reverend and Ross Noble as a killer clown in Stitches. Adding to that pile is the genre debut of Kevin Bishop – best known for delivering one of the best Elton John impressions of all time in Star Stories. It's like a very British cross between Bad Lieutenant and Maniac Cop.
Bishop is Barry 'Baz' Vartis, a cycle cop who receives a nasty bang on the head and suddenly turns into a semi-trendy (well, he knows how to use Twitter, and has more followers than me) English version of The Punisher. His gimmick: asking his victims for their 'permission' for him to kill them. Set against a backdrop of the recent London riots, May I Kill U? is timely and relevant. It might not be quite as clever as it thinks it is, but it's a very interesting blend of vigilante crime thriller and British comedy all the same. The film's successes are all the more impressive when one stops to consider just how much room there was for May I Kill U? to go horribly wrong. I had envisioned a cross between The Bill and Alien Autopsy. I love British cinema as much as the next patriot, but when we make a clunker, boy do we make a clunker.
That title didn't do much to allay my fears. It makes me ill just looking at it. Baz may be Twitter's most popular murderous vigilante (and I maintain that's only because the mighty Frank Castle has better things to do than #FF) but there's nothing more guaranteed to send me into a psychopathic fury than people using 'U' instead of 'you', and 'R' instead of 'are' and so on. May I Kill U? is not a great title. It left me fearing for the quality of the film, rather than looking forward to seeing it. That plot could so easily have been a template for broad comedy and Kevin Bishop doing silly voices.
While Bishop's voice is quite silly (think his Ross Kemp impression in The Kevin Bishop Show) the film's brand of comedy is about as far away from 'broad' as it's impossible to get. In fact, interactions between Barry and his mother (played by a terrifying Frances Barber) are just resoundingly sad. You don't expect that from cuddly Kevin Bishop. He struggles to shoulder a feature length movie, but his easy charisma distracts from the more obvious gaps in his acting abilities. He's ably backed up by Barber (who is almost too good), Jack Doolan as a vengeance-seeking thug and Hayley-Marie Axe, as his easy-going partner. Meanwhile, the film's integration of social media works a lot better than it could have, thanks to writer/director Stuart Urban's witty script and fun use of onscreen text and gadgetry. All of these disparate, unlikely elements combine to make May I Kill U? one of the most interesting British genre movies in years.
May I Kill U? is not at all what one might expect it to be. It's funny, violent, bleak and even quite sad at times. Ignore the terrible title and any preconceptions you might have about the lead actor, May I Kill U? is worth following any day of the week.
Video, Audio and Special Features:
Video, audio and special features will not be graded as this was a screener.