Review: Kill Keith (15) / Director: Andy Thompson / Screenplay: Andy Thompson, Pete Benson, Tim Major / Starring: Susannah Fielding, David Easter, Marc Pickering, Keith Chegwin, Russell Grant / Release date: March 26th
With the catch line “Saw meets Richard and Judy” and a selection of very British B-grade celebrities sending themselves up in Extras fashion, you could be forgiven to think that Kill Keith will be a one gag flick – but boy, would you be wrong.
The iAM-TV breakfast show, The Crack of Dawn is losing its male presenter, Cliff (David Easter, himself a familiar TV face) under mysterious circumstances, not that his barbed innuendo toward eponymous star Dawn (Susannah Fielding – you may remember her pretty face from Doctor Who episode Victory of the Daleks), nor his arrogant and prima donna ways will be missed by the crew on set. A prime butt of Cliff's acerbic comments is studio runner (or coffee and arse wipes to his colleagues) Danny (Marc Pickering). Danny has an ambition to rise above his post and become a presenter himself, and when the celebrities on the short list for Cliff's replacement start turning up dead you have to wonder if maybe he's picking off the competition. Could Keith Chegwin - currently hosting a door step section of the show 'Cheggers knocks you up' - be in line for the job, or will it go to camp as Christmas astrologer Russell Grant?
After the producer of the show is found dead, in a bizarre but hilarious way (bringing a new meaning to the expression getting your oats), and squeaky voice comedian Joe Pasquale is killed with a box of cereal he is pimping, the press begin to wonder who will be the next victim of the “Breakfast cereal killer”.
What is surprising about Kill Keith is not just how well it is made, but how it totally goes against your expectations. The film is as much a romantic comedy (sorry I refuse to use the term 'romcom') and a pin sharp satire of daytime TV as it is a horror film. The dumbed down competition questions, the clueless presenters and sleazy tabloid journalists are all targeted. A master stroke has Tony Blackburn played by a young, good looking guy Joe Tracini, and when it looks like he may be next on the hit list, he hires a lookalike – played by Blackburn himself. A wonderful sequence has him tortured to the tune of 'Last Night a DJ Saved My Life'.
The star of the show, Cheggers himself, gets less screen time as you'd expect, but when he is, he is brilliant. He is instantly recognisable to many of us of a certain age for Swap Shop and Chegger's Plays Pop, and then tarnished his reputation slightly by becoming a piss pot and getting his nudger out on a TV game show. No matter what you think of the guy personally, he certainly is game for a laugh and not afraid to send himself up. In fact, all the celebrities involved should be applauded for throwing themselves into the production.
Danny is a likeable hero, with a penchant for Walter Mitty type fantasy, which reminded me of Spaced and the often forgotten 80s US shows, Dream On and Herman's Head, and the chemistry between him and Dawn is evident and believable, if stretching the credibility a little; how many TV stars would even notice the tea boy?
Director Andy Thompson, who had previously co-directed an overlooked but entertaining horror flick The Scar Crow (2009) helms with confidence from his own story, filling the screen with some lovely flourishes and transitions.
The film would not be out of place if it was placed under the 'Comic Strip Presents' moniker, and I mean that as a complete compliment. The biggest shame about the film is that it is so British it may limit its appeal overseas. Hopefully it will become a big cult hit on DVD, as it certainly deserves to do well. A bloody good fun film and one of the best film posters of the last year.