Dead In A Week (Or Your Money Back) review: After having helmed a few shorts, writer/director Tom Edmunds makes his first foray into feature filmmaking with this  riotous debut, which might be one of the most impressive directorial debuts of the year.

Dead In A Week (or Your Money Back) review by Awais Irfan.

Dead In A Week (or Your Money Back) review
Dead In A Week (or Your Money Back) review

Struggling writer William (Aneurin Barnard) wants to kill himself, giving suicide a seventh crack in the opening moments of the film – he’s atop a bridge, mustering the will to jump. There, he meets a mysterious “man” Leslie (Tom Wilkinson) claiming he can help William; after another failed attempt, he rings the man up to find he is an assassin for the British Guild of Assassins and his “help” is in assisting the suicide, to help Leslie meet his kill quota – that, or face retirement. But, when William finds life and love in the quirky book publisher Ellie (Freya Mavor), meeting that said quota becomes a little more difficult than Leslie first anticipated when William no longer wants to bite the dust.

Boasting a cast featuring the likes of Wilkinson, Mavor and even Christopher Eccleston in a small role, Dead in a Week is as quintessentially British a film as they come. You can take along a checklist and mark everything off as it occurs: self-deprecating humour; cups of tea; an entire subplot dedicated to an English sewing competition; purposefully overdone accents – it’s all there. And this film is an absolute barnstormer. Edmunds’ writing here is sharp and witty, constantly keeping its foot on the pedal and quick on the jump; the story itself relishes in originality and imagination (a guild of assassins that have their own brochures, fill out paperwork, meet quotas and rent equipment based on their kill is terrifically ingenious) and the humour it draws from the comical nature of this secret world is absolutely golden and outright hilarious and laugh-out-loud funny from start to finish.

But, as brilliantly funny as this film is, Dead in a Week really shines because of its characters and the surprising heart and emotional heft it offers up. We care for these people and see them as that: actual people and not just larger-than-life characters. It’s refreshing to see a film spend as much time with its antagonist as it does its protagonist and follow both in their everyday struggles; it makes their dynamic so much more fleshed out and riveting to watch and adds a real sense of stakes and complexity for when everything goes awry in the film’s final act. The performances are all fantastic; Eccleston is a particular highlight as the over-the-top, assassin crime-lord Harvey in his limited screen-time but it’s the powerhouse trio of Tom Wilkinson, Freya Mavor and Aneurin Barnard that are really the heart of this piece. It’s a riotous affair: hilarious, endearing and anchored by a surprisingly touching and affecting emotional core that packs a punch. It’s slow in parts but Dead in a Week (or your money back) is a thoroughly impressive debut that is massively fun and slick and up there alongside Calibre as one of the best British films you’ll see all year.

Dead In A Week (or Your Money Back) review by Awais Irfan.

Dead In A Week (or Your Money Back) was reviewed at the 2018 Edinburgh International Film Festival.

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Dead in a Week (Or Your Money Back)