The Drummond Will
The Drummond Will is the debut feature from director and co-writer Alan Butterworth, and has picked up numerous awards on the independent film festival circuit. It is film that – if you see it in this context – is fun, quirky, and well-crafted. If you stand it up to other onscreen attempts at black comedy, there is one rather large flaw.
The beginning of The Drummond Will is promising; the black and white cinematography gives the film a fittingly shadowy aesthetic as the buffoonish policeman (Jonathan Hansler) breaks and enters into the Drummond family home to discover the corpse of old man Drummond. Here, the opening credits roll to a great soundtrack and the film seems to be shaping up pretty well. Until about five minutes later when we are faced with the bitter disappointment of bad acting skills from some key members of the cast. Continually irritating with overexaggeration, cheesy facial expressions, and ridiculous voices, the acting in this film brings the tone down from potential comedy great to amateur twaddle.
The story is based around two brothers, Marcus and Danny Drummond who are (fairly unoriginally) total opposites – one naive and frivolous, the other grumpy and sensible. Attending their father’s funeral in a tiny countryside village, they set about organising his ramshackle home; but while doing so they come across a curious old man – ‘Malcolm the Bastard’ – hiding in their cupboard. And not just hiding, but hiding and clutching a rather large bag of money. With Danny convinced it belonged to their father – and therefore is rightfully theirs – they take the money and lock Malcolm in the cupboard only to find him dead a couple of hours later. Numerous odd villagers and bizarre occurances later, the brothers find themselves quite literally at the village crossroads in a right old pickle…
Fortunately, the actors hamming it up does not ruin all the fun; the script from Sam Forster is undoubtedly funny and Butterworth’s direction lends itself very well to the dark slapstick humour that will succeed in getting some laughs. Those members of the cast who do provide a good performance (particularly Keith Parry as Uncle Rufus) make the film more than bearable to watch, and there are a few notably memorable moments that will have you shocked, disturbed, laughing and disgusted, as all black comedies should. But is this enough to counteract the other wrongdoings? I’m not so sure.