Director: Sam Ashurst
Writer: Sam Ashurst
Cast: Elf Lyons, Hazel Townsend, Dane Baptiste
Producers: Sam Ashurst, Elf Lyons
Music: Lottie Depresstival
Cinematography: Sam Ashurst
Editor: Sam Ashurst
Cert: 18 (TBC)
Running time: 76mins
What’s the story: Film director Stanley Durall (Ashurst) records an audio commentary to accompany his once-banned debut film, God’s Lonely Woman, plus interspersed behind-the-scenes footage. As Durall recounts the shoot, disturbing revelations come to light.
What’s the verdict: After his memorable debut Frankenstein’s Creature, Sam Ashurst again proves large budgets are not required to produce exciting cinema, and that good ideas are free.
Channeling the spirit of 70s Euro-horror auteurs Jean Rollin and Jess Franco for the film-within-a-film, and J-Horror as events repeatedly take on a supernatural vibe, A Little More Flesh is a visually striking movie. Self-funded and shot, Soderbergh style, on an iPhone.
What elevates it to must-see status is the sophisticated use of the audio commentary conceit, as scumbag director Stanley Durall’s initially deluded, then increasingly disturbing recollections unfold.
Ashurst tackles #MeToo issues around the film industry’s history of misogyny and abuse, but avoids wearisome hectoring or indulgent mansplaining. Closely collaborating with producer-star Elf Lyons, his second film is a perfect balancing act of horror and pathos. And humour, the film being a sharply written black comedy, albeit one whose laughs often freeze in the throat.
While the softcore fumble flick God’s Lonely Woman plays out onscreen, on the soundtrack self-styled auteur and own-biggest-cheerleader Durall blithely compares himself to Andrei Tarkovsky and Francis Bacon, while claiming he inspired Stanley Kubrick and Gaspar Noe.
Ashurst’s script subtly shifts perception of Stanley from deluded self-promoter to abusive monster, his self-pitying or callous comments contrasting starkly with the ordeal cast members Isabella (Lyons) and Candice (Townsend) are being subjected to onscreen.
A sinister audio commentary accompanying a notorious 1970s artifact cropped up a few years back in a Christmas episode of Inside No.9. But, A Little More Flesh takes the device down new avenues. Including trance film (Stanley unleashes vitriol for Isabella as his drugged leading lady dances in an unbroken ten-minute take) and video nasty (an unforgettable splatter moment, courtesy of FX supremo Dan Martin, climaxes the film).
The cast, including comedian Dane Baptiste, capture the style of 70s Euro-horror, despite (or because of) effectively playing everything as a silent movie. In a performance both haunting and heartbreaking, Lyons conveys frustration, resentment and fear solely through facial expressions and body language.
A Little More Flesh will be lapped up by film buffs and horror devotees, who will have fun peeling the layers of references and in-jokes, e.g. the “boutique label” releasing the God’s Lonely Woman Blu-ray is named after Ashurst’s YouTube channel, Deep Cut Videos, Durall’s audio commentary in parts seems inspired by Abel Ferrara’s notorious talk-track on Driller Killer.
But, extensive knowledge of movie trivia is not needed to experience this clever, unsettling, diabolically funny gem.