(WARNING – SOME SPOLIERS FOLLOW)
It is very difficult to review poor films without resorting to unkind and unnecessary insults. It is hard to imagine any film-maker setting out to make a bad film and anyone able to assemble a cast and get on film something resembling their vision deserves a measure of respect. Having said that, film criticism must be honest in order to have integrity and clearly nothing useful is gained by glossing over a film’s shortcomings.
With those introductory comments in mind then, let it be said that Deadmeat is a deeply, abidingly terrible film. “Q” (aka Kwabena Manso) is the star of the film, as well as the writer, producer and director, working from his own book by the same name. It is hard to see anything resembling talent in any of those four disciplines, going by what is on display here. At the outset, we are presented with faux-computer screens superimposed over the faces of principal characters, with icons asking, Starship Troopers-style, whether we would like to know more. Certain characters then address the camera directly, alternating with a ridiculously detailed voice-over from Clarkie, setting out the story development in sections that run for minutes at a time, with no narrative development coming from the dialogue.
We get sections of voice-over that relay information such as, “I moved to the other side of the river and got myself an apartment. I got a girlfriend who is really good with hacking computers. I found out who was behind my brother’s murder. I spoke to “so and so” and he said it was Froggy.” While all of this is relayed, mundane, directionless, meaningless events unfold on screen. Q then decides to abandon this style completely, moving his character off screen so that a story about undercover police and anew terrorist cell can develop. The computer screen icons disappear, as do the straight-to-camera monologues and the voice-over. We get the senseless sub-title “Four Years Later” at one point, despite there being no narrative reason for it, nor any explanation as to what Clarkie has been doing in the meantime. One finds oneself staring vacantly at the TV screen, wondering what is going on and when it will all end.
It turns out that the aforementioned terrorist plot has been hatched by a uniting of the IRA and al-Qaeda, calling themselves the IR-Keyda, under the leadership of an African American who remains nameless. The investigating police officer manages to get through to the Prime Minister, who is being driven around in his Land Rover, who when told of the plot, advises his aide that they have ” a code 185N” (or something). It is entirely laughable and tragic, proving to be idiotic, politically ignorant and narratively incoherent all at the same time.
Mercifully, the film is only 75 minutes long. Problematically, the terrorist plot is not resolved at all. The PM is told that calls will be made to warn of each successive bomb, he addresses the British public to tell them the bombs are due to go off, Clarkie is confronted by a police officer who tells him that a car matching his was seen near the site where Froggy was killed, he says it wasn’t him and then the credits role. The whole “Cyber Vigilante” thing is never mentioned after the “Four Years Later” subtitle, Clarkie’s girlfriend disappears off to South Africa, he gets himself a fake passport so he can follow her, finds out his flight is that evening but doesn’t actually leave and seemingly key characters arrive and depart without warning and for no reason. It is a ghastly, incoherent, shambolic mess.
Although Q deserves some kudos for persevering in the realisation of his film, the blame for this mess must fall at his feet. He is clearly out of his depth, yet lacks the self-awareness to surrender to his limitations and stick to what he is good at. In an additional interview on the DVD, he speaks positively about the potential of having an online presence, because “digital is noughts and zeroes”. it kind of makes you want to cry.
So, in conclusion, terribly written, woodenly acted, inconsistently and incomprehensibly directed. You can rent it now from LoveFilm, though goodness knows why you would want to. Not so much “so bad it’s good”, rather more “so bad it’s virtually unwatchable”. The clips below are not all from Deadmeat, so presumably those are from his follow up feature Fever.