A few years ago, director James Bushe did rather well on the festival scene with his short Cannibals and Carpet Fitters. So well, in fact, he and screenwriter Richard Lee O’Donnell decided to expand the story to feature length. Fortunately, if you managed to catch the short, there will still be plenty of surprises in store when you check out the completed movie version, as there is plenty more meat on the bones to pick through here.
From the start it’s very different: the film opens in a found footage style as we follow a pair of campers, Jack and Gillian (played by TV’s Alex Zane and Redwood’s Jessica-Jane Stafford), who get lost and then suddenly attacked. Fortunately (for us, at least), the shaky-cam footage doesn’t last long as we’re in proper motion picture mode by the time Gillian stumbles across a large country house. Going in expecting to receive help from the elderly woman, Mrs Hanning, who lives there (Stokes), instead she meets the family and, shall we say, ends up with a splitting headache.
The real story starts when a team of carpet fitters are given the task of covering an entire house. Sadly for them, it’s Mrs. Hanning’s house and her children are hungry…
While the title might be off-putting for those who’ve come accustomed to so many ‘zombies/aliens/yetis’ versus ‘Yorkshiremen/school girls/WAGS’ films that are just plain rubbish (with the exception of a few, naturally), we’re pleased to say Carpet Fitters sits firmly in that minority section. It uses the tried-and-tested comedic angle, and never takes itself completely seriously so there is a whole lot of fun to be had. Not every gag hits the mark, but it’s a high percentage and the titular workers are likeable enough to have us rooting for them. Of particular note are the lead trio, played by Darren Sean Enright, writer O’Donnell and Dominic Holmes. They have an engaging, if gormless, presence and some natural banter between them.
Gorehounds will be in their element; despite the low budget, there’s a high quota of impressive effects. There’s a startling gag early on that you won’t see coming. Director Bushe and writer O’Donnell are not afraid to dispense with characters, either, so despite the comedy aspect, you’re well aware that no-one is safe.
Cannibals and Carpet Fitters is probably closer to Alex Chandon’s Inbred than, say, Matthias Hoene’s Cockneys vs. Zombies, but is certainly up there with those two titans of modern British horror. Mixing the laughs with scares and gore in equal measures, it’s a delight and a very pleasant surprise and doesn’t shy away from being downbeat. It’s getting released later this year, so make sure you check it out.
CANNIBALS AND CARPET FITTERS / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: JAMES BUSHE / SCREENPLAY: RICHARD LEE O’DONNELL / STARRING: DARREN SEAN ENRIGHT, RICHARD LEE O’DONNELL, ZARA PHYTHIAN, JENNY STOKES / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW (US), TBC (UK)