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Simon Read [Film Festival 06.16.09] movie review horror

Year: 2009
Directors: Gerard Johnson
Writers: Gerard Johnson
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: projectcyclops
Rating: 8 out of 10

[Editor's note: We brought you the exclusive teaser and poster and now we bring you the first review of this insane looking flick. Interview with writer/director Gerard Johnson coming soon.]

To kick-off our coverage of the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2009 we've got Gerard Johnson's first feature, 'Tony', and it's quite excellent! A week in the life of a lonely psycho-killer with severe social problems and an unfashionable moustache, Tony is a darkly comic take on the horror/killer genre. Peter Ferdinando plays our eponymous anti-hero as a nervous and misunderstood loser, unemployable and on state funded job-seeker allowance for 20 years, but prone to sudden acts of extreme violence against anyone who might torment him.

The film is shot extremely well (props to DP David Higgs) with contrasting scenes of Tony's claustrophobic, spartan council flat and oddly lush views of a very grim looking London, complete with drug addicts, street walkers, homeless people and a generally disenfranchised looking populace. Tony wanders the streets, really just looking for anyone to talk to or connect with. At one point he visits a local prostitute whose price list is pinned to the wall, 'Sex - £20, Oral - £30', etc. Tony asks, "How much for a cuddle?" and is promptly thrown out. As a character he seems obsessed with sex and violence, watching 1980's shoot 'em ups on VHS and keeping a box of Kleenex and some Vaseline on his coffee table next to the discreet porn magazines. He visits a pub and is accused by a vicious thug of looking like a 'nonce' (paedophile to any non-Brits) and gets into a long running feud with the guy (played by TV's hardman Ricky Grover) which ends with a surprisingly touching redemption. He invites two crack addicts to his flat after following them to buy some drugs from their connection, a black pimp who quotes poetry in a posh English accent and then snaps back to a London wide-boy guise in a split second. Back at the flat the guys hurriedly take their toke and try to ignore Tony as they fall into a drug induced stupor, only for our man to have some fun in brutally attacking them as they enjoy their trip.

Tony's violent ways aren't explained, there are no flashbacks or insinuations of an unhappy childhood, he's simply insane enough to have convinced himself that he's different, and it works perfectly. My favourite scene and one of the most chilling has Tony staring at himself in the bathroom mirror. He says, "You're not a criminal, you're a soldier, you're gonna die like a soldier." A brief pause indicates a shift in tone and he looks back at himself, "You're no soldier, you're a fly on a pile of shit." He then lets out a guttural roar that even had the gigglers in the back row quieten down and sit-up. In short, Ferdinando is terrific in the role. Throughout the film a beautiful piano melody plays during exterior shots as Tony walks the streets and observes the filth that surrounds him, these parts of 'Tony' feel like a nightmare adapted for the screen by Johnson, as do the scenes where Tony painstakingly separates limbs from torsos to dispatch them in blue plastic bags in the Thames at night.

The film is also hilariously funny though. It reminded me of the insane humour of American Psycho, when Tony wakes-up in bed next to a decaying corpse and offers it a good morning and a cup of tea. He quotes Rambo in 'First Blood' before a murder, shrugs his way through the world’s most awkward job interview and picks-up a copy of Héctor Olivera's 'Cocaine Wars' at a charity shop (I am guilty of this too, which freaked me out no end!). He visits a gay bar a few times and seems to enjoy the attention he receives at first, but on taking a guy home he changes his mind and... well you know.

For such an unpleasant and brutal journey in voyeurism and perversity, 'Tony' has a twisted sense of humour and a beating human heart at it's core that helps to seriously lift it above other recent films in the genre. For anyone who was left cold by Steven Sheil's Mum & Dad or is tired of the same old torture horror that's offered so liberally by the industry, Tony is something special and absolutely the real deal.

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agentorange (13 years ago) Reply

Wow this sounds even better than expected. Thanks for the review!


Anonymous (13 years ago) Reply

can't wait to see it !!


margarite (13 years ago) Reply

Can't wait to see Peter Ferdinando in this role, he's a great actor.


Keelie Barrett (13 years ago) Reply

I cant wait to see this film!!


Anonymous (12 years ago) Reply

peter ferdinando is one of the undiscovered gems of the acting business! hopefully he will now get the recognition he deserves.........good luck to him!!!


iain (12 years ago) Reply

I saw 'Tony' at the Grimm Up North horror fest at the weekend, and I must say I loved it. Unfortunately the cinema butchered the sound, but it was still hugely entertaining and the stand out film of the festival for me.

Peter Ferdinando is one hell of an actor. and the script and story was deliciously dark and hilarious. Can't fault this film, and I can't wait to see it again.

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