Imagine writing a horror movie, something about a pair of man-murdering sisters, and then getting some of that early Guy Ritchie-style fast paced, hilariously funny, if slightly ragged, dialogue into it. If you can imagine that, you probably have a good idea about Double Date and what it has to offer.
Jim (Danny Morgan) is mere hours away from turning thirty and he’s still a virgin. Completely hopeless in the love department, not even able to score a date from internet dating, he turns to his lifelong friend Alex (Michael Socha) for help. Alex promises Jim a great night out before his birthday and promises to get him laid.
As fate should turn out, the lads meet two lovely ladies, who seem not completely impervious to the awful double-act’s stupidity, but against all odds they agree to a night out with the dynamic duo.
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Unbeknownst to the dozy pair, the ladies they are hoping to hook up with are out for something completely different. Kitty (Kelly Wenham) and her sister Lulu (Georgia Groome) have been on a bit of a killing spree trying to use the men they bring back to their house as sacrifices to resurrect their dead father. With a virgin being the final part of the ritual, Jim and Alex are in for one hell of a night.
Written by star Danny Morgan and directed by his friend and long-time collaborator Benjamin Barfoot, Double Date has some of the best written British comedy since Snatch. While it might be a little cliché to write yourself as the main character of your film, Morgan has a gift when it comes to penning joke after side-hurting joke and keeping the laughs coming deep into a film that has no right to be as funny as it is. He doesn’t even keep the best jokes for himself, instead letting Michael Socha play the foolish friend that we all have – If you don’t, it’s you – pitch-perfectly. Each line is delivered with a smarmy cockiness that isn’t just hilarious, it makes the character of Alex charming and somewhat endearing. Not an easy thing to pull off when your character is this much of a douchebag on paper.
The brilliance of the character balancing extends to the sisters, too. Kelly Winham’s take-no-shit Kitty is single-minded in her mission to resurrect her dad. Every time Michael opens his mouth to say something inspired. Or stupid. Kitty’s eye is on the prize at all times and she’s happy to entertain his foolishness and swallow the urge to beat seven shades of crap out of him. Both the quiet contempt for the blokes in her way and the ability to make said beatings a reality are conveyed brilliantly by Winham – the training she would have put in to some of those scenes would have made some people question their life choices.
Opposite Kitty, Georgia Groome’s Lulu is a wonderfully portrayed nervous wreck. Hating what’s going on around her and slowly learning not only to like the hapless Jim, but wanting to protect him from what is coming. Her character turn might not be anything original, but that doesn’t make it any less of a fun role to watch.
Double Date takes a well travelled road. It’s opening moments set up both the horror elements, including a fun kill or two, and the comedy with surgical precision. The laughs come thick and fast and there’s a chuckle there for everybody. The jokes, almost entirely from the cocky-as-hell Alex, are universal without being completely predictable. Although a brilliant, and completely out-of-nowhere dance routine will simultaneously have audiences roaring with laughter and hiding their faces in shame and embarrassment at the same time.
While the final act falls into more well-trodden horror fare, there are still moments as the couples split off and as the resurrection ritual comes to an end that make Double Date stand out in a field of independent horror cinema.
While all British horror comedies will forever be compared to Shaun of the Dead, it’s disingenuous to give audiences the impression that the two films are at all comparable. Instead, Double Date is more akin to Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. It just happens to have a pair of serial killing witch sisters in it.