A popular breakfast TV show called The Crack of Dawn (think cheap Daybreak knockoff with even less charm) is fronted by hosts Cliff and Dawn (yep, she’s been given this name purely to be made the butt of a hopelessly unfunny joke) whose distain for each other is clear through their strained daily relationship on the sofa. Mirroring his stint on the Channel 4’s nineties morning show, The Big Breakfast, legendary UK TV fixture, Keith ‘Cheggers’ Chegwin is also employed by the show as their roving reporter for a segment called ‘Cheggers Knocks You Up’ (the dreadful double entendres keep coming).
Cheggers, as it turns out, is in line as one of the possible replacements for the coveted sofa gig after Cliff announces his departure. The only problem is his main competitors for the role (Tony Blackburn, Joe Pasquale and Russell Grant) are being dispatched one after another in various gruesome, torture porn-type scenarios. Will the murderous figure behind it all, dubbed The Breakfast Cereal Killer (REALLY?!?) be unmasked before he strikes again (no prizes for guessing who this turns out to be) and will gawky breakfast show production assistant and general studio whipping boy, Danny be able to save his beloved Dawn from meeting the same fate as her potential co-hosts?
With a tagline which reads ‘SAW meets RICHARD & JUDY’ it’s pretty clear that there was never the goal to create some kind of post-modern, meta comedy classic here, but nevertheless, Kill Keith is a lazy, ill-conceived affair which has nowhere to go once the flimsy premise has been established. The biggest shame is the creators have failed to coax anything resembling a performance from former primetime TV fixture-turned personal demon tabloid fodder, Chegwin. What could have been an interesting glimpse into the mind of a jaded D-lister driven to the brink (with the broad humour intact) instead is a gimmicky and frustratingly underdeveloped role for the TV star, resulting in a one-note performance. For the majority of his appearance on screen (particularly after the reveal) Chegwin spends most of the time, hangdog-like, gurning in the shadows. The fact that his story and the other celebs exist merely as ciphers to the main, joyless plot which follows the budding relationship between Danny and Dawn, illustrates how little the makers were interested in exploring that side.
It’s clear the director has gorged himself on episodes of Spaced, and he uses that style of visual storytelling to frame the film. Manic whip-pans, brief fantasy interludes and cartoonish frame wipes (and even the dreaded, hideously overused record scratch sound effect) may have worked on TV a decade or so back, but here they look incredibly tired and amateurish. He clearly lacks the skills of someone like Edgar Wright, who has shown how to successfully adapt and craft some of those techniques for that bigger, cinematic canvas.
The intriguing presence of Chegwin (decked out in Kill Bill garb) on the promotional material will undoubtedly encourage some to seek out the film once it arrives on DVD, and while it occasionally strives to provide some amusing send-ups of TV culture (it takes enjoyable aim at the ridiculously simplistic phone-in quiz format), a small screen audience will probably feel short-changed too with this missed opportunity to humorously subvert the personas (particularly Chegwin’s) of these TV titans of yesteryear.