If characters explode like tomatoes in microwaves, you’re probably witnessing the continuing rise of British splat-core comedy horror that’s had as many hits (Shaun of the Dead, Severance) as misses (The Cottage), the latter now joined by the appropriately named Botched.
Stephen Dorff plays Ritchie, a jewel thief who accidentally drops a suitcase of diamonds during a heist gone wrong, leaving him in the debt of Russian gangster Mr Groznyi (Sean Pertwee). Groznyi suggests that Ritchie work off his debt by stealing a valuable cross from a Moscow apartment block, where Ritchie accidentally awakens the vengeful spirit of Ivan the Terrible, or at least a man with a stuck-on ginger beard and an axe.
With Dublin standing in unconvincingly for Moscow and a limited budget for gore effects, debut feature director Kit Ryan and Scottish screenwriter Raymond Friel (The Calcium Kid, Only Girls) hit the panic button and go for the cheapest of laughs. Missing trousers, speeded-up chases with Benny Hill-style balalaika music and fart jokes abound, with one desperate sequence involving all three within five seconds.
Participating with the good-humoured awkwardness of an adult at an infant’s tea party, Dorff deserves credit for keeping a straight face, only once turning towards the camera to ask ‘When’s the next fight back to LA?’
Selected release from Fri 11 Apr.