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Say Your Prayers  (DVD)


Stars: Harry Melling, Tom Brooke, Anna Maxwell Martin, Derek Jacobi, Roger Allam, Vinette Robinson, Flora Spencer-Longhurst, Matthew Steer

Director: Harry Michell, Jamie Fraser

The best black comedy (cf The Ladykillers) is rooted in reality, but we can hardly accuse this well-titled scattershot satire of that. Two orphaned, God-fearing brothers, Vic and Tim - the names can hardly be coincidental - turned radical Christian hitmen under the influence of Fr Enoch (Jacobi), are on a mission (their first?) to assassinate pompously cruel atheist spokesman Professor Huxley (Allam).

The mission, in rural Ilkley, gets off to a bad start when they dispatch the wrong man - 'he looked like him from behind,' says Tim - and are hauled over the coals by an arriving Fr Enoch, who orders them to get it right.

Tim, played by Melling, once Dudley Dursley in the Harry Potter films, has his doubts about the whole thing, especially after meeting literary festival organiser Imelda (Robinson). Vic, on the other hand - a role for which Brooke is a little too old (he's past 40) - swears incessantly, masturbates frenziedly and attacks anyone who blasphemes, even casually, He is, in fact, as nutty as a fruitcake.

The action is intercut, not always usefully, with flashes from past events, as well as by a sort of Greek chorus of silver-haired, red-jacketed singers. Their vocalising's splendid but the device tends to become more tiresome as the film wears on. Then there's the blackly comic cops on the trail, led by the charismatic Maxwell Martin, who has fun with her role.

The appealing Melling is the one actor allowed to flesh out the bones of his character a bit; Allam is his skilfully urbane self, though he doesn't do cowardice quite so effectively. The film, though too fragmented to work as well as the directors intended, is never dull, and, at just over 80 minutes, passes the time with commendable brevity. It's on video-on-demand.

David Quinlan

UK 2018. UK Distributor: Starcross. Colour.
84 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 3.

Review date: 29 Sep 2020