Drop the dead don­key

DON­KEY PUNCH Di­rected by Olly Black­burn. Star­ring Robert Boul­ter, Sian Breckin, Tom Burke, Ni­chola Bur­ley, Ju­lian Mor­ris, Jay Tay­lor, Jaime Win­stone. 18 cert, gen re­lease, 99 min

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film Reviews - DON­ALD CLARKE

PRO­DUCED BY Warp Films, hith­erto pur­vey­ors of elec­tron­ica to the cognoscenti, this in­ex­pen­sive Bri­tish thriller – an ad­di­tion to the genre that show­cases claus­tro­pho­bic may­hem on too-small boats – of­fers a few use­ful point­ers for film-mak­ers seek­ing to de­liver thrills on the cheap. It has a good build-up, fea­tures pass­able per­for­mances from about half the cast and makes good use of its nau­ti­cal lo­ca­tions. Un­for­tu­nately, it may also make you want to vomit.

The prob­lem is not to do with the co­pi­ous vi­o­lence. In­deed, the best scene in the pic­ture sees one of the char­ac­ters vent bloody wrath with an out­board mo­tor. You don’t buy a ticket for a fe­male re­venge thriller with­out ex­pect­ing a lit­tle blood in the bath.

The dif­fi­culty hangs around the film-mak­ers’ un­re­solved at­ti­tude to their an­tag­o­nists’ misog­yny. Olly Black­burn, for­merly a di­rec­tor of com­mer­cials, ap­pears a lit­tle too keen to de­tail tran­gres­sive, vi­o­lent sex in bizarrely com­pre­hen­sive de­tail. If Olly fails to make a name for him­self in fea­tures, he might wish to con­sider a ca­reer in mid-bud­get pornog­ra­phy.

Don­key Punch starts quite im­pres­sively with three girls from Leeds en­coun­ter­ing a trio of beery geezers in Mal­lorca. The lads in­vite the girls onto the cabin cruiser where they work and, be­fore very long, pills are be­ing popped and vodka is be­ing guz­zled. A com­pli­cated mé­nage à qua­tre (or cinq per­haps?) ends in dis­as­ter when one of the boys in­dulges in a vi­o­lent act ru­moured to en­hance the sex­ual ex­pe­ri­ence. His part­ner dies and the group sets about dis­pos­ing of the body. Ten­sions in­evitably re­sult and the girls find them­selves wav­ing knives and flare guns at the boys.

The first 45 min­utes fea­tures a very steady, sin­is­ter ac­cu­mu­la­tion of ten­sion, but, when the shag­ging be­gins, the good ship Don­key Punch hits Squalor Reef and never quite re­gains its buoy­ancy. Af­ter the first few hours of sweat­ing and groan­ing, it be­comes all too clear that Black­burn and his team are happy to ap­peal to their au­di­ence’s most voyeuris­tic in­stincts. The ran­dom slap­ping and punch­ing that fol­lows is car­ried out in such murky light­ing that the dis­tinc­tion be­tween the char­ac­ters, never bold, blurs into puz­zling obliv­ion. By the close, one al­most longs for the re­lief that re­sults from hav­ing an out­board mo­tor rammed in the face.

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