The Snarling Movie Review
Written by Daniel Benson
Released by [email protected] Productions
Written and directed by Pablo Raybould
2016, 83 minutes, Not Yet Rated
Midlands Premiere on 29th February 2016
Laurence Saunders as Les Jarvis / Greg Lupeen
Chris Simmons as Mike
Ben Manning as Bob
Pablo Raybould as Detective Inspector
Ste Johnston as Haskins
Joel Beckett as Bruce
Julie Peasgood as Verity Metcalfe
Julia Deakin as Yvonne Mayor
Albert Moses as Hospital Patient
It seems like only a few weeks ago that I paid a visit to the set of The Snarling, a low-budget horror feature being shot just round the corner from where I live. Yet, when I look at the date, it’s almost a year ago I braved the cold and damp to find a bunch of enthusiastic local filmmakers shooting their final scenes in the Warwickshire countryside.
Sometimes you never hear of these projects again, but thankfully an invite to the Midlands premiere of the finished product landed in my inbox a couple of weeks ago. So off I went to Bromsgrove’s Artrix Theatre to see if The Snarling would live up to what was promised. One of the most pleasant surprises of the night was seeing how well attended this premiere was; often independent productions can attract a lacklustre turnout, but on this particular night The Artrix’s 200-seat venue was filled almost to capacity.
The Snarling is a very British, no, make that a very Midlands horror comedy centering on a zombie film shoot that is beset by a werewolf. The narrative spends its time equally between the film crew struggling to cope with its diva principle actor (Laurence Sanders), a hapless police duo investigating the grisly attacks (Pablo Raybould and Ste Johnson) and a perfect trifecta of Ben Manning, Laurence Saunders (pulling double duty) and Chris Simmons as the local pub boys.
When things start taking a turn for the worse on the film set, the patrons of the local pub get a chance to be on set and hope to make a bit of money along with a free breakfast. It’s Les Jarvis’s (Saunders) haphazard attempt to heat sausages for his mates that leads to one of the most inventive kills I’ve seen in a horror movie. To say more would be to spoil it, but once seen you’ll never forget it.
Writer and director (and actor) Raybould has crafted a tight comedy that never goes too long without delivering laughs and at the same time pays homage to one of the greatest werewolf movies of all time, An American Werewolf in London. To a casual observer the nods will mean nothing, yet the references are there for the dedicated horror fan to pick up on. Everything from the name of the pub (The Severed Arm invoking Landis’s Slaughtered Lamb) right down to a cameo from Albert Moses, who played the hospital porter during David Naughton’s stay in American Werewolf.
If anything, The Snarling short-changes you slightly on the horror, but more than makes up for it with the laughs. While the budget may have allowed for only a few attack scenes, there’s no cost attached to jokes – and this is where the film excels. Raybould and Johnson, as the bumbling DI and Haskins respectively, play off each other magnificently, with Johnson stealing the show for sheer natural comic ability. Meanwhile, back at the pub, a deadpan Ben Manning and exasperated Chris Simmons spend their time in a constant state of bewilderment at the stupidity of local idiot Les (Saunders).
It’s always nice to see independent filmmakers making a go of it, and to see the finished product and laugh along with the rest of the audience was a sight to behold. The film had its premiere at the Horror-on-Sea Film Festival in January, where it reportedly received a similarly enthusiastic reception. I can only hope The Snarling goes on to get a wider release and gain the full recognition it deserves.