Meet innocent Jim, terrified of girls, and on a reluctant quest to prove his manhood the night before he turns 30. He and his cocky friend Alex think they've hit the jackpot when they meet the beautiful siblings Kitty and Lulu, who seem up for anything on a wild party-fuelled night. But little do they know that the femmes fatales want to make Jim lose much more than just his virginity - Getting laid has never been so bloody difficult.
But if I’m presented with a horror/comedy out of the UK – my immediate thought is, “How does it compare to Shaun of the Dead?” In my mind, it’s an inevitable comparison.
And with the horror/comedy feature Double Date (holding its US premiere at the 17th Annual Screamfest in Los Angeles) – no exception to said comparison will be made.
I’ll give you a hint as to my overall thoughts on the film. In my wrap-up article (check that out here), I ranked Double Date as my #3 horror feature “best of fest” for Screamfest. So there’s that.
On the night of his 30th birthday, awkward but sweet virgin Jim (writer Danny Morgan) is heading out on a double date with his best buddy Alex (Michael Socha). The night before, they’ve met two lovely sisters, Lulu (Georgia Groome) and Kitty (Kelly Wenham) – and Alex has made it his sole goal to finally get Jim laid. But as you’ll learn in the film’s opening moments (so this is not a spoiler, friends), Lulu and Kitty are blood-thirsty killers of an occult nature. And Jim’s virginity is exactly what they need to complete a ritual which will get the girls something they desperately want back.
The performances from the four leads are a perfect blend of menace, innocence, love and goofiness. In other words, each of the four actors hit every little nuanced note – whether they’re in the midst of violence, in the throes of love or whether they’re being as awkward on a first date as anyone can be.
As Jim, Danny Morgan will immediately latch onto the audience. His total social anxiety and awkwardness will have you on his side within the first few moments. And Jim’s journey in the picture is a true one. So many times, films don’t have a central character who defies expectations and actually changes throughout the story. Morgan is able to convey his perpetual virginity and fear of women so well – and then as his confidence soars and he must step up to the plate – leaving his wall-flower behavior behind forever – he manages to keep us on his side. This all results in what can only be described as a truly endearing performance.
As douche-bag (but lovable) Alex – Socha is tacky as hell. But even with his outwardly womanizing appearance, Alex is a good guy. Socha has an innate chemistry which will overcome Alex’s less than decent qualities – and make him someone you will root for and adore. And his touching moment with his dad (a great side-scene just prior to the climax) absolutely cements your love for this character.
And as our two very different sisters – there’s a lovely chemistry and a true feeling of sibling love/rivalry present between Groome and Wenham. It’s very clear the types each of these sisters is, and the easy repartee between the two actors portraying them is perfect. Kitty is clearly the dominant of two siblings, and I think that’s why Wenham shines a little brighter. It’s the part she was given. That’s not to say that Groome is any less wonderful. But I’ll give a leg up to Wenham (as a personal favorite) – because it’s flashier and who doesn’t love a true femme fatale/black widow character?
As my avid readers of 3 know, I am a sucker for films with a good heart. And Double Date will pull on some heart-strings – most notably when the long-standing bro-mance between Alex and Jim is strengthened/tested by what they are going through.
There’s also a side-trip to Jim’s home for a birthday get-together with his sister and parents. Lulu tags along (to keep an eye on her quarry). Not only does this show how sweet of an upbringing Jim has had – and it illustrates that he’s truly a good guy (in the eyes of Lulu) – but it is an easy comic highlight of the entire picture. You see, Jim has just taken ecstasy. So when he engages with his family in a time-honored birthday tradition – it all adds up to big smiles from the audience, actual guffaws and a few “awwws”. And the t-shirts? A perfect detail!
And on the topic of Lulu and Jim – you’ll probably see what’s coming, but the culmination in the film’s short denouement is touching and surprisingly heart-breaking.
Make-up effects (notably in the last third of the film) are properly grotesque and well-executed. I was particularly fond of a gory, nasty head-wound, but I’ll leave that up to you all to discover.
The soundtrack (as the group goes from club to club) deserves loads of praise. But nothing will prepare you for the group’s journey to a local club for a (shall we say) intimate performance from a mutual friend’s boyfriend. For some reason, the absurdity (and brilliance) of this sequence made me fondly remember the feel (and kookiness) of What We Do in the Shadows. Don’t ask me why – but it’s a flattering comparison regardless.
Without a doubt, Double Date has one of the most exciting, over-the-top and wonderfully fun fight scenes I’ve seen in ages. Once it starts, it seemingly never ends – and every single moment will fill you with joy. And (wait for it) there’s a little button to the fight which is as obvious a place to end – but it’ll still fill you with happiness. And the two actors involved in the fight have already built up a steady stream of tension as the film progresses – so this fight (and how it concludes) will feel so right. And damn! That choreography was awesome!
The film’s climax is surprising to say the least – and certainly offers up enough creepy terror to qualify this firmly as a HORROR/comedy. It’s got some terrific make-up effects mixed in with the sick humor and yes – with some additional heartbreak.
There are more than just a few moments of “raise your hands”, sort of “cheer out loud” scenes in Double Date. And this excellent climax is where you’ll find most of them – for a whole slew of reasons.
While the title doesn’t fill me with delight (it does deliver on its promise, of course) I would have liked something a bit more appealing and less generic. Double Date sounds like a rom-com (yes, the film fits some of that bill), but does little to entice horror freaks on the outside. I’m just sayin’.
And as far as that initial comparison to Shaun of the Dead? Let’s just say that these two would make one helluva double feature — a double date, as it were? Ahem.
With an immensely strong cast of amazing actors, plenty of heart to go with all of the bloody goings-on and the fight scene to end all fight scenes, Double Date is a fast-paced, endearing horror/comedy treat.
Double Date is still playing the festival circuit, so no wider release information is yet available.