Crass comedy meets occult horror in the UK film Double Date, and writer/star Danny Morgan’s screenplay and director Benjamin Barfoot’s energetic direction make for an effort that works equally well in both departments. Skewering modern single life while paying tribute to horror movies and horror comedies, the film is a charming chiller that offers its shares of gags, gore, and violence.
Socially awkward Jim (Danny Morgan, who also wrote the screenplay) is on a quest to lose his virginity before he turns 30 in a few days, and his boorish friend Alex (Michael Socha) is more than happy to try and help him find success. One night at a bar, they meet lovely sisters Kitty (Kelly Wenham) and Lulu (Georgia Groome). Jim is suspicious that the two women show an interest in a nerd like him, but Alex tries to motivate him to seize the moment. The sisters, of course, do have an ulterior motive, and it is a dark, twisted one, indeed. Viewers see what they are capable of before this initial meeting between the four main characters, and the bloodshed and brutality only elevate from there.
Morgan’s screenplay delivers laughs at a high rate, with Jim tossing humorous asides and pointed commentary, while Alex is coarse and narrow-minded in his own effort to find some temporary female companionship. Kitty gets most of the horror focus, while Lulu is a confused young woman who has misgivings about her sister’s evil ambitions, which are magnified further when she starts to develop romantic feelings for Jim. The timing for this ill-fated relationship couldn’t be worse, and Morgan and Groome are perfect in their portrayals of these reserved characters. Morgan is engaging as an everynerd with his sights set low, and he is easily relatable as a protagonist.
Wenham is terrific as the manipulative, seductive Kitty, and shines in both scenes with action and heightened suspense. An extended fight scene between Kitty and Alex is as disturbing as it is well choreographed. The two go at it hard and heavy, and the scene manages to throw in a bit of social/sexual commentary amid the furniture-splitting violence. Wenham is outstanding in this sequence, portraying Kitty as a confident assailant who has trained rigorously for just such a battle. Socha is a fine sparring partner here, too; his character’s emphasis in this scene is to lighten the proceedings while taking a pounding from Kitty.
Most of the characters get to show some pathos, as well; Lulu’s sudden visit to a birthday party thrown by Jim’s conservative Christian Family is rather embarrassing to Jim, but it is a turning point for Lulu. Groome shines in this sequence and her performance takes on subtle shades afterward. Even foul-mouthed Alex gets to show a softer side during a visit to his down-on-his-luck father (Dexter Fletcher), giving Socha the chance to stretch his performance.
Barfoot and Morgan are obvious fans of horror, action, and comedy movies, and the duo makes for a winning team here. They keep the goings-on manageable in the references and reverence departments, giving Double Date a fresh feeling throughout.
Double Date screened at London’s FrightFest (August 24–28) and is due out for wide release on October 13.