Review: Sticks and Stones / Author: Robin Ince / Publisher: Hammer Chillers / Starring: Alex Lowe, Zoe Lister, Con O’Neill, Frog Stone, Cicely Giddings, Scott Brooksbank / Release Date: June 28th
Bafflegab and Hammer Films' latest Hammer Chiller is Sticks and Stones, a thirty minute, full cast production written by comedian Robin Ince (Radio 4’s The Infinite Monkey Cage). When a story starts with a mediaeval witch burning the listener should expect the worst; indeed Sticks and Stones is unremitting in its exploration of the dark underside of human emotions. This apparently unconnected prologue gives us some recurring themes – a foul stench and flies.
Neil Stanley (Lowe) is an apparently nice man married to Val (Stone) but he spends his time in his attic as an internet troll. His latest victim is Sam Pinker (Lister), who is a TV talent show contestant. We learn nothing of Neil’s motives but plenty about the vile abuse he hurls towards Sam which slowly but surely begins to affect her emotionally. Encouraged to ignore the trolling, Sam carries on but slowly the vile threats Neil makes begin to happen.
The story builds in waves and an unpleasant smell marks each evil event. We learn that there may be more going on than simple trolling and the impact on Sam and those around her grows as Neil sinks more into the squalid depths of depravity.
The climax is particularly stomach turning and best listened to when not eating. I will mention that we learn where at least some of the flies are coming from.
The engineering, acting and directing are all convincing but I would have liked more in the way of incidental music or audio cues to better separate some of the scenes. Another convincingly horrible tale, though I personally would have liked more than a visceral link between the mediaeval and the modern setting.