Kill Keith (2012)

Grab a beer. Maybe some vodka. Jam your tongue firmly in your cheek and throw your brain in the bin. Welcome to Kill Keith.

Despite the marketing artwork shamelessly plagiarizing Tarantino’s two-film killathon, Kill Keith is nothing like Kill Bill. For a start, Keith never wears a yellow jumpsuit, holds a sword or even comes close to having any kind of arch nemesis. It is also ridiculous, stupid, inane, unfortunately childish and bloody confusing at times. Luckily it’s also reasonably well crafted, surprising, enjoyably bizarre and actually a helluva lot of fun. Only worth watching with some like-minded mates and a bellyful of alcohol, Kill Keith is still worth a watch.

Keith Chegwin is a television presenter and occasional actor. He’s been around for a LONG time, from Cheggers Plays Pop to The Big Breakfast. He painted himself as a racist anti-Semite in Ricky Gervais’s comedy TV series Extras and even starred in Polanski’s 1971 version of Macbeth (as Fleance, not Macbeth). Outside of the UK he’s a non-entity, so this film will not travel well across the pond, but within the UK – in some circles – he’s seen as a British institution. Like Fish ‘n’ Chips, the Queen and skinheads beating up foreigners.

As the title suggests, Kill Keith is about someone out to murder Keith Chegwin. Yet Keith isn’t the only one in danger. A mad murderer is out to eliminate all the fairly-annoying breakfast television celebrities, all of whom have one thing in common: they’re all in line to become the next co-host of The Crack of Dawn, breakfast television’s most coveted job. The killer’s methods are random, but always involve cereals or milk…

At the heart of Kill Keith lies a romantic comedy focusing on Danny (Marc Pickering), a studio runner who people constantly berate for being a bit shit. Currently in charge of ‘coffee and arsewipes’, this spindly idiot has two dreams: to become a famous breakfast television host and to sexually involve himself with Dawn (Susannah Fielding), the face of The Crack of Dawn. Can he achieve these things? Or will the whole “serial killer” murdering anyone related to the show thing get in his way?

Kill Keith bizarrely (deliberately? Not sure) emulates the cheesy idiocy of weekday morning television shows whilst openly ribbing them, with ridiculously easy quiz questions to awful live-on-the-street segments like “Cheggers knocks you up”. Much like the never-changing format of a breakfast TV program Kill Keith is archaic in it’s sense of humour, with references to the original Batman series and one seriously outdated reference to the crapness of Skodas…

It features some really, genuinely bizarre waking fantasies from our protagonist Danny, from random war scenes down studio corridors to 1920′s black ‘n’ white crime noir in a car. Does it work? Sometimes. Mostly it feels childishly awkward, like a student’s showreel, with these flares added to prove artistic merit and inject “comedy” into an otherwise mostly paper-thin idea. Occasionally it feels like it’s desperately attempting to emulate Edgar Wright during his Spaced years, but it consistently misses the mark. Despite this, director (and co-writer) Andy Thompson does prove to be an excellent director in segments, but as a whole he doesn’t quite manage to knit the entire piece together well enough.

Because of this, Kill Keith turns out to be tonally confused – one second it’s incredibly self-knowing, the next it’s batshit mental, another it’s pathetically childish and another it’s brutal and bloody. As a comedy / horror it focuses almost entirely on the comedy element (and romance) and barely even considers the horror, with the violent elements being shoddily slapped together and more confusing than genuinely effective.

The trailer below is a perfect example of Kill Keith’s general tonality – I ask you to work out the plot, genre or protagonist from this:

The trailer speaks volumes and the poster and title are utterly misleading too, having nothing to do with Tarantino’s two-film opus! Throughout the film random decisions are made for no reason whatsoever. Aging DJ Tony Blackburn is played by a younger actor and then the actual Tony Blackburn – without rhyme or reason – is picked to be his lookalike! I can only presume this is done because Blackburn cannot act in any way, shape or form. Truly a crazy decision.

Kill Keith is packed with needless subplots involving the show’s manager (or whatever the creepy bloke is – job description is a little hazy here), a cleaner / undercover paparazzi and the ever-confusing Tony Blackburn situation. It feels like a short story packed out and procrastinated into a feature film, with very little substance and a whole helluva lot of random. Yet – somehow – it is oddly endearing and certainly original.

Quite possibly the most insane thing about Kill Keith is how good Keith Chegwin is – he’s excellent throughout, from his usual cheeky chappy schtick to his more psychotic moments of surprise violence. Chegwin is excellent throughout. So much so I’ve said it twice. Excellent throughout. Three times, dammit.

In fact, the acting in Kill Keith is generally pitch perfect (whatever pitch they were aiming at – still unsure myself). Pickering, David Easter and Dominic Burns are especially good, delivering a sense of the elevated absurd that the film requires. The quality performances really lift this above the Godawful mess it could’ve been.

Overall Kill Keith is absolutely unique: batshit mental, funny, bizarre, confused, puerile, smart, crazy and contradictory all at once. Do not watch it sober or alone, because it’ll probably just cripple your brain. Worth a watch? Definitely. I guarantee you’ve never seen anything like it. Kill Keith is an enjoyable mess.

Next up – Kill Lenny.

Please.

Rating: ★★★★★★½☆☆☆

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