Splash Area

Certificate: 18
Running time: 85 mins
Director: George Clarke
Starring: Anthony Boyle, Leanne Marks, Ruby Campbell, Robert Render
Genre: Horror
Country: Northern Ireland

It’s Halloween and the inappropriate linguistic stylings of Uncle Tom have come to babysit, and also tell his niece and nephew the story of Splash Area.  On the carnivalesque streets of October 31st in Belfast a gaggle of killer clowns have escaped from a local asylum and are blending & bleeding their way through the crowds of revellers in the port city.  When a group of friends (led by Anthony Boyle – Onus) are attacked they decide to fight back giving Fast City it’s second river…a river of blood.

It’s very rare that we declare our love or hate of a film at the top of a review but Splash Area demands that we do so.  Clarke’s movie treads on the dangerous foundations of the great horrors that are stories within stories.  It works perfectly.  It feels like an Exploitation movie from the Philippines, it echoes connotative resemblances to Troll 2 (one of my favourite films ever) and it does it in such a way that is hilarious and horrific in equal measures.  Sometimes a movie comes along that for one reason or another just gets everything right.  Splash Area is the first Northern Irish movie to do that.

Anthony Boyle (Mike) gives a great performance in the lead.  He’s a young lead but he carries the film with a confidence that lights up the screen and prevents any possible distraction from the events Clarke has mapped out to enjoy.  He’s helped along the way by a returning cast of Yellow Fever faithfuls that provide suspense, horror and comedy to the overall narrative.  Robert Render (The Last Light) as down-beaten Office Walker is excellent.  Again he’s undergone a transformation, not just in his appearance but in how he presents himself on screen.  He’s amazing.  Add to that Alan Crawford (Battle of the Bone, The Knackery), Gary Whelan (The Knackery) and newcomers Leanne Marks & Ruby Campbell and you’ve got the nucleus for something special.  There’s a fantastic chemistry on screen between all the cast.  It’s not just a well oiled machine but a closely knit family and it shows on screen.

The cinematography is outstanding.  Clarke’s sensibilities are such that no two films are ever the same, it’s the sign of a great director and director of photography and it gives Splash Area an aura of originality that allows for anything to happen.  Similarly the scoring of the film is great, but there’s so many great little moments.  One in particular when Uncle Tom is reading the story, "doing" the voices himself before they blend into the on screen narrative featuring the characters.  It’s a tiny thing.  It’s almost not worth mentioning if it wasn’t for the fact that it sums up everything.  It’s that meticulous attention to detail that makes all the difference.

There’s nothing in Splash Area I’d want to see differently, there’s nothing to change, there’s nothing to complain about.  It’s Troll 2 crossed with Halloween with a dash of IT multiplied by Tod Browning's Freaks and a perfect modern day Exploitation experience.  Splash Area is nothing short of exceptional.  I can't remember the last time I had so much fun, that was legal and lasted 85 minutes.  I can count on one hand the number of movies I've finished that have made me want to start watching it immediately after the credits, but now I have one fewer fingers.  A fantastic mix of splattered blood and oil based make-up.

Both Onus and Splash Area are playing as part of 10 Days in Dublin Festival at The Sugar Club on Tuesday 9th July 2013.  If you’re in the area I implore you to attend as you will not be disappointed by these two great independent offerings to the Gods of cinema. 

10 Days in Dublin [book now]

Donate [here] to help Yellow Fever Productions make Onus II.  It will not only be well worth your while but you'll be making a contribution to Northern Irish cinema that the funding bodies will not.


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