Recently, I watched two Irish films with similar plotlines, one a comedy and one a suspense.
A Film with Me in It (2008) stars Dylan Moran and Mark Doherty. Just when the luck of screenwriter Mark (Doherty) seems to have run out, everyone around him starts dying in his flat by freak accidents. First, his dog, then his girlfriend’s brother, the landlord, his girlfriend, the neighborhood cop…He calls on the help of his friend Pierce (Moran), who doesn’t think that many accidental deaths in one place in one day sound realistic for Mark’s screenplay let alone real life. No one is going to believe them. So they decide to hide all the evidence.
Dead Bodies (2003) stars Andrew Scott as Tommy McGann, whose girlfriend (played by Katy Davis) accidentally dies in his flat. Afraid he’ll go to jail for manslaughter, he decides to hide the body, but as he’s digging the grave, he finds a second body. Later, when the girlfriend’s body is found, police suspect Tommy has killed both the girlfriend and the wife of the politician that was found in the same hole. Tommy solicits the help of his friend Noel (Darren Healy) to dispose of the evidence and find the real killer of the woman. Meanwhile, he’s falling fast for his friend Viv (Kelly Reilly).
Now, neither of these films were the hits of the year, though they both have their strengths. Conceptually, A Film with Me in It is brilliant. It’s an absurd premise. I like a good dark comedy, a good subtle comedy. And I like Dylan Moran as much as the next person, probably more so. I can see where this was a hilarious film on paper, but something missed the mark in the laughter aisle. Maybe the protagonist was too pitiful, or we got too close to the girlfriend, or the lack of witty lines, or it was just lacking those intense moments where characters are whispering in hysteria at each other. I do think, to an extent, the outcome saved it. It has a solid ending that makes you go “Ohhh.”
Dead Bodies was slightly more enjoyable, though it’s a drama rather than a comedy, and therefore in some instances contrived or cliche. But for what it set out to do, it succeeded. There were plenty of twists and doubts about who was on whose side without getting tangled. In the beginning, the film doesn’t seem to know what genre it is because we get this serious voice over about the darkness Tommy has found inside of him, but then we’re in a seemingly teen flick (all right, twenty-somethings) where everyone’s running out of a house after a party before the parents get home. It has its roller coasters of funny and suspenseful scenes. Again, a suitable twist for the ending. Maybe not entirely original, but I can’t say I exactly saw it coming either.