Short Film Review: Hard To Kill

Have you ever imagined what the lovechild of The Mighty Boosh and The Evil Dead would look like? No, neither have I — but I think it would resemble Hard to Kill, a short film from James Iles and Alastair Jenkins, and I’m really glad it exists.

Hard To Kill Poster

It might sound like a criticism when I say that Hard to Kill is all over the place, but that’s one of the joys of this bizarre film.

In the space of half an hour we travel from School of Rock band-misfit territory to Liam Neeson taking on a wolf with a DIY knuckleduster in The Grey via a dayglow animated sequence and a darkwave obsession.

There’s a lot crammed in and, while I feel that the opening could do with a little trimming, getting us to the meat of the story quicker, Hard to Kill is an enjoyably demented creature.

The film lingers a little too long over the early scenes, but it really gets into gear when we arrive in Finland.

Musician Troy Freeman (Scott Suter) has left civilization on a Bon Iver style retreat to a cabin in the snow-laden woods. Cut off from help he becomes embroiled in a cat-and-mouse battle with a small, but deadly, “snow weasel” (which looks like something spawned by the ovine zombies of Black Sheep and the giant rodents in 50s oddity Attack of the Killer Shrews).

Visually bold

Hard To Kill creators Alastair Jenkins, Scott Suter and James Iles in a Q&A

It’s unsurprising that one of the directors, James Iles, has a background working in art departments for shows like Sherlock and Doctor Who, because Hard to Kill is a visually bold film.

There are some sweeping, cinematic shots of the Finnish wilderness our axe (in the guitar sense of the word) wielding hero finds himself besieged in while the snow weasel and an encounter with a skeleton couldn’t be described as realistic — more out of the pages of Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace (a comparison I do not make lightly!)

Hard to Kill feels like it wears its influences on its sleeve — the snow weasel’s POV approach to the isolated cabin feels very The Evil Dead and I was reminded a lot of They Live (another wonderfully demented film) not to mention the very 80s-action-film slow-mo peppered throughout the latter half of the film. All of this creates a very odd and very fun horror short.

The Evil Dead meets The Mighty Boosh

One sequence encapsulates the combination of styles particularly well for me and it’s a surreal fantasy sequence which starts off feeling like Julian Barratt talking to two women in the Boosh before one of the women has a Cheryl (The Evil Dead) possession moment.

Fun(ny)

Hard to Kill is funny, there are a lot of throwaway one-liners which made me laugh out loud and I particularly enjoyed the warm flashback where our hero was first taught to smash a guitar.

I don’t know if I’d categorise Hard to Kill as a horror-comedy in the way that, while it makes me laugh, I wouldn’t call The Evil Dead a horror comedy (until we get to Army of Darkness). It is a fun film though and if you have affection for any of the other films I’ve mentioned then I think you’ll find you have a soft spot for Hard to Kill.

By Ed Hartland

Want to join one of the fastest-growing horror communities in the UK for FREE? Now you can. Click here to become a member of The London Horror Society

Other Posts You Might Enjoy

Short Film Review: House Of Lexi Confusion and misdirection are as sharp an instrument in the horror director’s tool bag as any other, more dizzying and memorable than another severe...
FILM REVIEW: SUSPIRIA Let’s get one thing out of the way — this is not about Dario Argento’s Suspiria. I’ll admit it’s hard to dispel the looming shadow of Argento’s fil...
FILM REVIEW: ESCAPE ROOM There is a moment in Escape Room which sees an ex-soldier (Deborah Ann Woll) dangling over a (unconvincing) massive drop, held only by the strength of...
FILM REVIEW: LOOK AWAY What do you get if you take an alienated teenager struggling through vicious adolescent cruelty in high school and supernatural revenge? Carrie. An...
Film Review: Avant-Macabre Avant-Macabre is a 6-minute black and white, silent(ish) horror film by John H Shelton. It features only a few characters, and its main content is voi...
This entry was posted in Review and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.