It is unheard of for a film review to grace the pages of the Gazette however an exception is being made since it culminates in coverage of a project that has come full circle. The Bigger & Badder crowdfunding project first featured in the Gazette back in December 2011, as part of a post looking at the emergence of independent British horror films. It was featured again in August 2012 following the campaign's success having secured more than the funds needed, which principally used to cover the costs of special effects and make up. The film was completed thanks to a team of dedicated cast and crew who volunteered their services, as well as the production efforts of Paul Banner and Laura Carter.
After securing a sneak peak at the finished film the Gazette sits comfortably in Barry Norman's chair to offer an informed and unbiased view of Bigger & Badder, written and directed by Richard Wantuch.
Who is Bigger and Badder
It has not been a good day for young Peter (Sam Knight), a package boy under the employ of the nefarious gangster Trevor Deacon (a wonderfully villainous turn from Phil Hemming). When his first delivery goes disastrously array Peter has to answer to his boss,a vicious gangster who prunes his rose garden with a sinister evil chill and is willing to use the same gardening tools on those he feels have crossed him.
Peter has the difficult job of convincing Trevor as to the events of that night, a tale that seems far fetched, made up of the stuff of nightmares and legends. If Peter's story is not convincing then he will learn just how big and bad Trevor can be.
Lycanthropes and Gangsters
The script by writer and director Richard Wantuch is fast paced and tightly packed, wasting no time getting into the action as Peter is being chased across dowdy industrial estates whilst Trevor carefully prunes his immaculate rose garden, all to the thumping sound of Crawl by Circus Town. Wantuch clearly believes that less is more in generating chills and shocks. With Bigger & Badder, Wantuch puts this philosophy to great use with scenes of empty corridors echoing Peter's screams as he is beaten and tortured, and the fast paced edits of the werewolf attacks.
If there is one slight criticism it is that you do not see enough of the creature (nicknamed Wilbur by the production crew). Yet in a way this does add to the increasing suspense of the unfolding story. Where the director really excels in keeping the viewer gripped is the use of Peter's flashbacks as he tries to explain how the delivery turned sour. The script lures the viewer into a false sense of knowing more than some of the characters, particularly Trevor, however this presents one of the most impressive plot twists as the story reaches its finale.
In addition to twists and scares, the film is so well paced it feels longer than its incredibly short running time. Wantuch has put the more downtown areas of Birmingham to effective use creating a gritty feel in much the same way British gangster films use various locations around London's east end.
The cast also shine, in particular the principle leads. As the sinister gangland boss Trevor, Phil Hemming turns in a sterling villainous performance that chills the viewer down to the bone. Every snarl and stare as he is interrogating Peter is eerily executed, never in danger of veering close to being over the top, especially in contrast to his more serene gardening scenes. Sam Knight as the hapless Peter successfully exudes a sense of real fear and urgency without seeming forced or contrived.
A Howling Success
Considering the meager budget Bigger and Badder is an excellent example that a talented crew with limited resources can produce a high quality film. The finished work offers fans of original British independent horror, a film with real bite, At only a fraction of the running time of the average feature film, viewers can expect plenty of gritty suspense, intrigue and plot twists that puts any big budget counterpart to shame.
Image Credits; Plaural Films All Rights Reserved