Banjo review: “A surprisingly decent low-budget horror.”
Director: Liam Regan
Cast: James Hamer-Morton, Damian Morter, Dani Thompson and Vito Trigo.
Running Time: 82 Minutes
Synopsis: A young man becomes manipulated by his imaginary friend after 20 years of absence to exact revenge on his tormenting co-workers.
FrightFest has been a place of just as many laughs as scares this year, but one film that really stands out in the funny category is Banjo. Director Liam Regan supplies us with one of the best British comedy horror films at this years festival, a warped tale about a murderous imaginary friend. Banjo is a bizarre and unique achievement to be seen as soon as possible, this is the one that will set social media alight.
Based off of Regan’s short film from 2012, Confessions of Peltzer, we meet our main protagonist struggling through work and relationships. Peltzer Arbuckle is emasculated by everyone he is around especially his girlfriend Deetz, who is frustrated with his performance in bed. This triggers off an accident where Peltzer basically breaks his penis and bleeds all over the place. Lovely. This adds to Peltzer’s humiliation at work as word gets round about this “accident”. As Peltzer hides in the men’s toilets, he rediscovers an old childhood friend.
The only friend Peltzer has ever had in his life, is the imaginary Ronnie, played wonderfully by Damian Morter. Ronnie is reminiscent of the 90s comedy starring Rik Mayall, Drop Dead Fred. Just like Fred, Ronnie is charismatic, funny, but also disgusting. There are moments where it is suggested Ronnie is real. For example, he ties up Peltzer’s co-workers and pushes a trolley around the office offering poisonous cake (a self moving trolley!). Even though the make up isn’t amazing, it certainly adds to the surrealism of the film. You could say, visually and with its dark humour, it is like watching an episode of The League of Gentleman.
Admittedly, the film really doesn’t come alive until Ronnie appears which is probably the point, but the downside. In the first 20 minutes or so, you do really wonder what the director is really going for. Birdemic or American Psycho? Banjo basically is a love letter to exploitation films, that feels like a fun x-rated 90s version of a children’s show. You instantly hate all of the characters apart form Mr. Sawyer (the boss), who comes out with such great lines as, “Make like a tampon, and get out of my bloody hole!”.
All of the scenes featuring Peltzer and Ronnie are cracking fun, particularly when they get drunk and cook together. Also, the scene where Ronnie blinds a woman in a cinema for talking on her phone, makes you want to applaud with glee.
One of the main reasons the director made his short film in to a full length feature, is due to people e-mailing that he was a sick person to make it (just wait until Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno kids…). Cue the domino effect, and voilà! You end up with some pretty cool special effects. Bright green bile, a bloody manhood being stitched up….it is certainly to be seen to be believed.
Overall, Banjo is surprisingly decent for a low-budget comedy horror. Liam Regan creates perfectly a comical but dark world that poor Peltzer must endure, and may never get out of. Maybe those e-mails were right, the director might be a sick person after all…
Banjo review, Louise Tooth, August 2015.
Banjo screens at Frightfest on Monday 31st August, at 10:45am.