Some years ago, FrightFest presented Show Pieces – three short films from director Mitch Jenkins and writer Alan Moore – that were tasters for an ongoing project in several media called Nighthampton, which is what Northampton becomes when everyone goes to sleep. It turns out that the enigmatic anecdotes were prequels to this feature, which still feels more like a pilot for a series than a complete work. Fletcher Dennis (Tom Burke), whose red-and-black striped jersey and stuck-up hair suggest he’s the adult version of Beano character Dennis the Menace, travels to Northampton on a mission from East End fruit trader Bleaker (Christopher Fairbank) to track down and kill ladies man James Mitchum (Darrell D’Silva) who fatally battered his daughter or so he says. Bleaker seems oddly more interested in retrieving a missing ornament (a Rosicrucian Maltese Cross) than in avenging the violence done to a loved one. Mysteries are solved but a great many more are left for a later day.
It’s a high-quality chatfest, delivered with conviction by a deadpan cast, with many, many quotable bits and throwaways, and Jenkins gives it all a colourful David Lynch-by-way-of-1980s-Film-on-4 look. Making a film noir revolving around a character from the Beano (the slyest gag is what he uses as an assassination tool) is an amusing idea, though it has its baggy stretches. Thank the movie gods for Chris Fairbank who charges in like Ben Kingsley in Sexy Beast to bring threat and excitement to the picture.