Director: Nick Whitfield
Screenplay: Nick Whitfield
Producers: Tracy Brimm, Kate Myers & Paul Welsh
Starring: Andrew Buckley, Ed Gaughan, Jason Isaacs, Paprika Steen, Josef Whitfield & Tuppemce Middleton
Year: 2010
Country: UK
Duration: 94 mins

When a film is awarded the Best New British Feature accolade at the Edinburgh Film Festival, you hope that it would have been able to secure a major release deal with national cinemas. Sadly, that wasn’t the case with Skeletons. With a limited big screen release it seems to have slipped under the radar of the mainstream audience who appear to prefer big-budget American CGI-type offerings instead.

Shame.

Skeletons is a ‘surreal comedy’ and tells the tale of Bennett (Andrew Buckley) and Davis (Ed Gaughan) two existential exorcists who remove the emotional skeletons from the cupboards of their clients. Their creed is “Stick to the rules, tell them everything, leave and never come back”. However, it’s never going to be as simple as that. Both of them have their own inner issues to deal with – coping with the loss of parents, and the desire to help clients after the skeletons have been unearthed – to make the jobs completely hassle-free. Also, being an existential exorcist is not without inherent dangers, not least of which is being left the ability to only speak Belgium if things go wrong.

Their boss, The Colonel, is played by the ever-creepy Lucius Malfoy – sorry, Jason Isaacs, I always get the two mixed up – and is just as intimidating with a northern accent. It goes downhill for Bennett and Davis when he gets them to do ‘their biggest job so far’, with the lure of promotion. They’re brought in to locate a missing husband, but it’s the reaction of the wife, Jane (Paprika Steen), and the silent daughter, Rebecca (Tuppence Middleton), which turns Bennett and Davis’ world upside down. Rebecca has more than a passing interest in how the exorcisms are conducted, and that way leads to danger – or at least speaking Flemish Belgium.

The set-ups and pay-offs worked really well and it wasn’t clear whether the heroes would succeed or fail, and what price they would have to pay regardless.

My only criticism of the film was that at some points it laboured and could have done with getting a move on, and occasionally the music played too heavy over the action. The editing (by Rachel Tunnard) was first rate as were the performances. Skeletons may still be doing the rounds in independent cinemas, but is also out on DVD now. Well worth a watch.

Review by Andy Goodman

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