Filmed in 2015, The Snarling – a low budget, lowbrow British werewolf horror/comedy – has been largely kept under wraps (apart from a select handful of festival outings) ever since. It now arrives on DVD and you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s a bit of a stinker because... well, why wouldn’t it be? It turns out that The Snarling is actually a lot of fun; it’s ramshackle and shambolic, and it’s full of moments which will roll your eyes, jokes which haven’t seen the light of day since they fell out a Christmas cracker in 1973, and special effects which can best be described as cheap and cheerful. Yet the film has a commendable sense of self-awareness, plenty of scenes which will genuinely raise a chuckle or two and some enthusiastic performances from a cast list full of likeable ex-soap stars.
A remote village somewhere in the Midlands is chosen as the location for a tacky zombie movie starring diva-ish minor TV star Greg Lupeen (see what they did there?) who, as it turns out, is a doppelganger for local idiot Les Jervis (Saunders plays both roles). Les and his two pub chums secure roles as extras but an accident with a sausage (don’t ask) sends the hysterical Greg to hospital just as a couple of local bumbling cops come to the conclusion that Greg is responsible for a series of gruesome murders in the nearby countryside. Or is he?
There’s a lot wrong with The Snarling – the pace is a bit sluggish, there’s an irritating tendency for scenes to end on a word of dialogue picked up in the next scene, and it’s probably not as grisly as it should be (although that’s probably a budgetary issue). But it’s still strangely agreeable thanks to some hearty characterisation (Les and his mates are good comic value throughout) and the comedy rapport between the bumbling Detective Inspector (writer/director Raybould) and his dim-witted sidekick Haskins (Johnston). Many of the jokes creak and groan but most of them land fairly well even if they’re not especially big or clever. It’s hard not to raise a smile as the DI gazes at the dismembered remains of one of the nameless monster’s victims and mutters “I think we can rule out suicide”. Elsewhere the script is quite genre-savvy. One of the extras playing a zombie in the film-within-the-film is called Dawn, several scenes evoke An American Werewolf in London and even the classic Night of the Demon gets a nod.
The Snarling is shamelessly derivative but gets away with it because it’s made by people who are clearly having a good time and relishing some halfway decent comedy material. A sequel – featuring many of the same actors in the same roles and entitled The Last Twitch – is due next year. We’re not ashamed to say – don’t judge us – that we’re quite looking forward to it.
THE SNARLING / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: PABLO RAYBOULD / SCREENPLAY: PABLO RAYBOULD / STARRING: LAURENCE SAUNDERS, CHRIS SIMMONS, BEN MANNING, PABLO RAYBOULD, STE JOHNSTON,JOEL BECKET, JULIE PEASGOOD / RELEASE DATE: 29TH OCTOBER