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Beyond The Rave (2008)
Director: Matthew Hoene

review by Paul Higson

Screenwriters are taught the paradigm of the three act structure for that hit movie or script sale. But why restrict a movie to three major turning points? If the premise is original enough it should never lose momentum, and the more conceptual the tale the more opportunities for about turns and interesting content. Cat's cradle scriptwriting has caught on somewhat and the conceptual yarns do exactly this but so too do more conventional adventures now. X-Men Origins: Wolverine has at least four clear acts but neither does it relax at any point in-between, slipping in details which snowball certain characters and expand on the film's mutant universe. When reviewing Wrong Turn your reviewer observed that the film had clearly been made giving consideration to something notable, and particularly jolt-worthy happening every ten minutes. The film had a rhythm. If a feature film can do that then so too, in theory, should a web series be able to.

Harper's Globe (a web series shot to promote and support the ultimate stalker horror tale Harper's Island) was made up of short and snappy episodes which, in compilation, would not have been sufficient as a long feature. But Britain already had a precedent for a flash-fiction film series collated to feature-length for DVD release in Johannes Roberts' When Evil Calls, which was also the work of Pure Grass Films, the co-production outfit taking the actual lead on Beyond The Rave. When Evil Calls was to be frowned upon, a preposterous, infantile and cumbersome splatter-fest. The title sequences were left in, breaking up the gory tableaux, and the formula is continued with the DVD release of Matthew Hoene's Beyond The Rave as there is no attempt to hide its webisodal structure. The story is spat out in five-minute chunks which largely comprise of arguments and a bloody pay-off. I could poke fun at the makers here, suggesting that the film was their idea of where Hammer might be today had it not ceased production, continuing its downward descent in quality until reaching the point that is Beyond The Rave, which feels nothing like a Hammer film and, in truth, nothing like a feature film.

Beyond The Rave is such a disaster that it is difficult to know where to start. It is like picking out the discernable in vomit or identifying someone following a threshing accident. Let's begin with the title. It hints at bad wordplay and is a little obtuse. The warehouse rave is a dated device and unconvincing setting. The theme results in a typically awful soundtrack. It is not the first time that Hammer has visited cultural scenes ex-post facto that were largely written on guesswork about the practices and language. The scene is not completely dead, of course, and people continue to drop tabs and the basic noise still dominates but this is about as true as Danny Boyle's fantastical serving up of the rave scene in the oddest of the Inspector Morse mysteries Cherubims And Seraphims, which was a mix of details accurate and terribly wrong. Research and realism seem less of a concern to Hoene and his scriptwriter.

The cast of characters is more like a march of the morons as vampiric bastards, aggressive chavs, stoned idiots, and comedy gangsters, plough forward cussing and maiming until they themselves are cussed and maimed with some finality. The story zips between the disparate groups but the need for webisodic violent death and action means that the numbers are reduced with such rapidity it might as well have been done with a machine-gun. The heavy population and the accompanying avalanche of images and noise make it difficult to work out who is who. Not that there is much character to pick up on. The vampires all sport names straight out of gothic role-playing game clich´┐Ż: Lilith, Faustina, Belial, Strigoi, Nicolai, and Lucretia. The makers' principal idea for character development lies in their ability to cuss, and so we have the fuckwit wanker, posh cunt tarts fucked, while the Laurel and Hardy of mockney, the kick-ass Crocker brothers (Tamer Hassan and Lee Whitlock), a right couple of fucking Clouseaus, see how you fucking like it, see how the queer cunt likes it stuck up his aris (sic) and kick the cunt out of the odd leech cunt, knob jockey, wrong 'un vampires. Don't blame me for that! If you don't like the language, avoid this movie. The language is sad and seemingly ad-libbed. It is nothing more than a spewing out of unpleasant epithets in lieu of a genuine attempt at dialogue.

Somewhere in this mess there are a failing romance and a budding romance, the former between a soldier due to be shipped out to Iraq and his girl (Jaime Doran and Nor-Jane Moore) and the latter his mate, Necro (Matthew Forest) who has fallen in love with one of the pretty young vampires, Lilith (Lois Winstone). Aw, bless! But none of this matters. Without any real character and story development, and nothing likeable about the bloody lot of them, they may as well get on with the slaughter. There are signs of an opportunity for something worthwhile developing particularly in the human and vampire lovers' relationship, but there is no time for anything. Sebastien Knapp as the lead vampire Melech has an appearance that is pitched somewhere between that of Vampire Circus' Emil and Patrick Mower's banshee. Trevor Byfield as the vampire older in at least appearance Leopold is one of the film's few characters that intrigue, and the surviving trio of he, Lilith and Necro might have led to a better more personal and personable film series.

There are several guest appearances, including Sadie Frost and Oliver Milbur, while the credits throw in a few names - invisible in this compilation edition - such as Ingrid Pitt, Steve Sweeney, and Mark Wingett, who are seemingly nowhere to be seen (and lost since the original flashes). They turn up in the bonus features in additional episodes and character bits. This is an appalling return for Hammer, a catastrophe. It's all gone a bit Pete Tong, and, indeed, that very twat is responsible for the score. Philip Martell is probably turning in his fucking grave. British film has been doing quite well without Hammer and can continue to do so unless it is willing to get its bloody act together. That may well be the case with forthcoming Hammer Film productions though the talent, budgets and locations involved vary to such an extent that the old identity might not be recovered nor a new identity be forged. Let us hope that Beyond The Rave is an ill-conceived blip in Hammer's new catalogue. Everyone involved in this farrago should go and stand in the corner for several years and mull over what they have done.

Beyond The Rave



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