From David Hollinshead and Philip Thompson comes Essex Spacebin, a slightly bonkers sci-fi comedy adventure produced by Chelmsford Film Society and picked up internationally by Troma Entertainment.
Whilst Essex Spacebin may, on the surface at least, be merely about crazy Lorraine (Lorraine Malby) and her ridiculous claims of otherworldly portals, interdimensional keys and maps, aliens, bizarre robot animals and other erratic, unexplained shenanigans, there’s actually a lot more depth to the film than some may be expecting. For you see, Lorraine is battling mental health issues while making said claims, which in turn completely devalues her words to many of the supporting characters – ranging from her family to her doctors – yet at the heart of Essex Spacebin is the realisation that maybe Lorraine speaks far more truth than her ramblings may suggest. But really, could there really be interdimensional portals to alien worlds hidden away in little old Chelmsford, Essex? That’s what Lorraine is determined to prove as she tries desperately to hunt down the magical Essex Wormhole.
As you may have guessed from the above rundown of the film’s key plot, Essex Spacebin is truly a unique beast. Overflowing with British humour, dialogue and mannerisms, Hollinshead and Thompson’s movie is full of the charm of a classic sci-fi effort of decades gone by – which is only added to further by being shot on 35mm – and is a hugely enjoyable romp through a landscape that feels quintessentially British yet completely otherworldly.
Being a low-budget production, obviously this isn’t a film to go into and expect to see glamourous, elaborate Hollywood special effects, but the duo behind Essex Spacebin manage to make the absolute most out of what they had at their disposal. And that’s similarly something that can be said about the film’s cast, with all involved putting in performances that are perfect for what is required here. The clear star of the film, of course, is Lorraine Malby as the portal-searching Lorraine, and the relatively unknown actress shows fantastic comedic timing throughout this rollercoaster ride. That said, though, Caryl Griffith steals the movie whenever she turns up as Lorraine’s mother, Caryl. No-nonsense and as blunt as they come, Caryl is a true highlight of Essex Spacebin yet she also doesn’t steal too much of the central Lorraine’s thunder.
With Essex Spacebin having been picked up under the banner of Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz’s Troma, that should give any well-versed film fan an idea of what to expect. Whilst it may not be full of the bloodshed and other extremities some may often associate with a Troma picture, Essex Spacebin manages to have the heart and little-engine-that-could attitude that has been seen in so many Troma movies over the years.
Clocking in at a brisk 75 minutes, Essex Spacebin rackets along and there’s never a particularly dull moment in this at-times laugh-out-loud effort. How the humour translates to international audiences is an interesting topic, but its references to everyday British pop culture, products and characteristics make it a massively enjoyable trip for UK audiences to get wrapped up in.
Go into Essex Spacebin with an open mind and you may just surprise yourself with a funny, frenetic, and furiously unique viewing experience that could prove to be one of the sleeper hits of the year.
Additionally, as well as being available already on Amazon Prime, you can catch a special double-bill of Essex Spacebin and Tromeo & Juliet, complete with a Q&A session with the legendary Lloyd Kaufman, at The Prince Charles Cinema, London on February 18th.
ESSEX SPACEBIN / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: DAVID HOLLINSHEAD, PHILIP THOMPSON / STARRING: LORRAINE MALBY, CARYL GRIFFITH, JOERG STADLER, IAIN STUART ROBERTSON, GILL NUNNS, PHELIM KELLEY / RELEASE DATE: AVAILABLE NOW (AMAZON PRIME), TBC (DVD/BLU-RAY)