Cinema/TV, Film Notes

Film review – Kill Ben Lyk

My notes on Kill Ben Lyk

For a class of people so desperate to be popular, vloggers have a surprising knack for making people want to murder them – and this Franco-British comedy is only one of a whole run of recent films in which youtubers are humiliated, haunted, tortured and murdered.  It’s also late enough to this party not to bother repeating too many observations, ironies and jokes seen in other films – there’s no cutaways to a computer desktop with likes piling up every time a Lyk is done away with.  In fact, though found footage turns out to be a plot motor, this quickly gets past the jabs at the primary Ben Lyk (Eugene Simon) – whose earnestly overdone ‘what to do’ videos usually end with some guy punching him in the face – and turns into something more like a classical British old dark house comedy-mystery.  Which is all to the good.

A killer in a mask that looks like a knock-off of Peter Wyngarde as Klytus in Flash Gordon is stalking London and executing people called Ben Lyk – one of the better jokes is that there are so many folk with this unusual name – and prompting the primary Ben to get in a panic about it (given he knows something witheld from the rest of us for an hour of a 77 minute film, he should be less puzzled than he is – but it’s established that he’s gullible and stupid).  The cops, led by Inspector Talisker (Gretchen Egolf), round up a clutch of varied Ben Lyks – including a girl (Simone Ashley), a lothario (Ashley Thomas), a jittery shell-suit guy (Bronson Webb), a tough Falklands vet (Andrew Hall), a slimy banker (Bruce Mackinnon), a hipster (Scroobius Pip) and a rugby-playing vicar (Charlie Rawes) – and sequester them in a mansion surrounded by armed police.  But the murders continue, and secrets trivial and vast keep tumbling out as the whole thing gets rather overwhelmed by plot business about a gang war.

Simon keeps up the irritating fecklessness throughout, which is almost a relief – the usual arc of these things would have him get responsible and show some guts, but he’s a shit to the last.  Ashley is funny with a running joke about convincing the primary Ben that she’s about to have sex with him, then psyching him out – and there’s a reveal about her character and why she’s here that’s surprisingly progressive (compared with a similar bit in the recent Tales From the Lodge).  Director Erwan Marinopoulos, who co-wrote with Jean-Christophe Establet and Oliver Maltman, may keep the running gags running a bit too long – a joke about the tough cop having to talk her toddler through bedtime could have profitably been curtailed after the first iteration – but also throws in some genuinely smart little bits, and manages a surprise payoff to the whodunit angle.  In the Kill Comedy stakes, it > Kill Keith, Madness in the Method, Killing Hasselhoff and others.


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