Comedown (2012), the indi-Brit horror from director Menhaj Huda starring Jacob Anderson, Sophie Stuckey and Geoff Bell, is reminiscent (one imagines) of a bad ‘trip’ without, unfortunately, any of the accompanying highs. A group of teenage friends including Lloyd (Anderson) and his pregnant girlfriend Jemma (Stuckey), decide to break into the block of flats in which they used to live but that now lies derelict, in order to help set up a pirate radio station and have a little ‘fun’ in the process. But there is someone-else prowling the neon lit corridors of the tower-block, someone intent on cutting the kid’s party dead – permanently.
From a technical standpoint Comedown is surprisingly competent. Atmospherically shot the film wonderfully captures the urban decay of the estates and streets surrounding the network of railways that criss-cross South London. The sense of claustrophobia established after the kids eventually enter the abandoned tower-block is effectively maintained with good use made of the dodgilly lit stairwells and graffiti daubed lifts and corridors. The murders, when they kick-in, are relentless in their intensity, achieving a suitably grimy realism, leaving the viewer (almost) feeling sympathy for the victims as their desperation and horror escalates – an empathy often lacking with characters in modern horror films. Though you’re a good half hour into the story before any of the teenagers are despatched, when they are the methods used to bump them off are effectively gruesome with everything from a nail-gun peppered face a la Hellraiser‘s (1978) ‘Pinhead’ to a suitably toe-curling head first descent down a waste-disposal shaft.
However these factors, which could have made for a reasonably taught little chiller had the overall film been handled better, are wasted in what amounts to thirty minutes of boredom followed by sixty of relentless torture porn. An interview in the disc’s extras with Comedown’s writer Steven Kendall (who also penned the abysmal thriller Capital Punishment (2003)), highlights the film’s basic problem. Explaining his approach to working on Comedown Kendall seems under the misconception that expletive ridden dialogue and a threadbare story involving teenage delinquents hanging about the streets of South London and dealing in drugs before breaking into an derelict tower-block, makes for a gripping and involving narrative.
The fact is – as is often the case with torture porn (which the filmmakers unashamedly describe Comedown as) – the resulting film is of little more than passing interest to anyone other than those actually involved with its production. As a result you would be well advised to give this particular piece of inner-city real estate as wide a birth as possible.