It’s hard not to like and admire a low-budget British genre flick when it’s written by a young English actor and directed by his friend, even if the writer has given himself the lead role. In this instance, it’s a rather brave move, as screenwriter Danny Morgan, probably best known for regular appearances in the Johnny Vegas vehicle Ideal, has cast himself as Jim, a nerdy virgin about to hit 30. It’s a successful collaboration with Benjamin Barfoot too, a visually impressive director with a distinctive vision for the project at hand.
Online dating hasn’t helped Jim’s sexual cause, and his chat-up technique is non-existent, so his best mate Alex (Michael Socha) decides he’s to be responsible for getting Jim’s cherry well and truly popped before his birthday is up. Unfortunately for the pair of them, they’re about to hit the same bar as sisters Lulu and Kitty (Georgia Groome and Kelly Wenham, respectively), a pair of beautiful young ladies who, we immediately discover, are more interested in bloodily murdering the men they lure back to their creepy mansion than shagging them. At least, Kitty is.
Spurring her sister on to commit unspeakable acts, it’s not entirely clear what Kitty’s motivation is, but it appears to be some form of demonic worship. Most of the action and comedy revolves around the quartet heading on the titular double date, with Alex providing the jokes as Jim slowly learns to be his embarrassing self in front of reluctant killer, Lulu. Sadly, it’s not quite as twisty and clever as perhaps Morgan intended. There are few surprises here, save for Michael Socha, who’s comedic beats elevate the material, particularly in the anarchic final act where he earns the biggest laughs during a bone-crunching smack-down.
It is written well enough, with Morgan’s Jim slowly manning up and Lulu learning to deal with her psychotic sister, which brings out a notably nuanced display by Groome. An almost-unrecognisable Dexter Fletcher even turns up in a strange little cameo, but beyond that, Double Date is rather throwaway entertainment, if engaging along the way, perhaps not quite self-aware enough enough to do anything particularly interesting with the endearingly simplistic premise.
It’s a likeable movie and the leads are entertaining, and it looks impressive, which is particularly commendable given the budgetary constraints. Just don’t expect to be blown away on a date that promises more than it ultimately delivers, which for many of us, is sadly all too familiar.
Double Date received its world premiere at the EIFF 2017.