Cinema/TV, Film Notes

FrightFest review – Criminal Audition

My notes on Criminal Audition.

This low-budget British exercise in bizarre crime is set in a condemned theatre, and has the feel of a well-made play … vivid characters, a contained scenario, revelatory speeches, a neatly-turned plot, and several stings in the trail.  Lawyer William (Rich Keeble) runs a very specialised service – providing desperate people who will confess to crimes so monied folk can get away with them, then coaching the patsies in being credible culprits and fitting up the scenes so the evidence points to them.

Ryan (co-writer Luke Kaile) has served a sentence for someone else’s crime and now works with William and blunt fixer Moe (Scott Samain), but all three find the smooth running of their latest audition – as four people compete to confess to an as-yet-uncommitted murder – compromised by any freelance service’s nightmare, the client who wants to get involved in the selection process and has an urge to tamper with a system that’s been working perfectly well.  Ms M (Noeleen Comiskey) and her tweed-clad goon Morris (Cameron Harris) show up to sit in on the auditions, and complicate things by insisting on torture hoods, shackles, and a literal elimination contest whereby the unsuccessful applicants are disposed of.

Gradually, the question arises why people who are this unhinged and bloodily off the leash even want to hire a tidy-up service when their object appears to be to leave the maximum mess.  Everyone, of course, has something to hide, and the revelations are neatly spaced-out, as there’s some canny toying with audience sympathies as we can’t help but feel for the professionals who just want to get the job done unfussily even though their whole business is hideously amoral … especially as Ryan starts to bond with L (Rebecca Calienda), an applicant who seems unlikely to make the cut, while he gets a sense that he’s still being used as a pawn by his smug, petty boss.

It depends mostly on the reasonably watertight script and solid performances from an unfamiliar cast (Comiskey and Harris especially enjoy themselves as the white-collar fiends), and holds back on the tied-to-a-chair-and-tortured aspect even when that’s exactly what’s going on.  Directed efficiently and concisely by Samuel Gridley.  I was reminded of Exam, another confined setting/limited cast British sinister thriller about a job application – this isn’t quite as baroque as that, but its premise is also fresher.


Here’s a trailer.

Here’s the FrightFest listing.





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