Dir. Ryan Andrews,UK, 2012, 89 mins
Cast: Jaime Winstone, Ray Winstone,KimberleyNixon
Review by Francesca Neagle
Elfie Hopkins is the inevitable creative hotchpotch that occurs when you put Nancy Drew, Enid Blyton, Midsomer Murders, and The League of Gentleman in a pipe and smoke it. It feels every ounce, a British film. But while it oozes charm, quirky characters, together with inspired costume design; as a horror film it is as much of a misfit to the genre as its nominative character is to the village she’s mired in.
Elfie Hopkins (Winstone) is the local stoner. The eternally-teenaged slacker, and wannabe private detective meddles in the lives of her neighbours, with the help of best friend and sidekick, Dylan (Barnard). But when new family the Gammons arrive, Elfie’s convinced that she has finally found a genuine case to investigate. Unfortunately for her, despite the Gammons oddness, the locals warm to them, particularly to family patriarch (Evans); a charming travel agent and sinister stranger in gleeful equal measure. When people start disappearing, Elfie pits herself against the murderous, twisted Gammons in order to protect the people of her village. But has she cried wolf too often? And will anyone believe her before it’s too late?
This is a fun film; the characters are colourful and enjoyable. Even whinny, sullen, infuriating Elfie, redeems herself with an innocent vulnerability that belies Winstone’s wisdom-endowed face and increasingly awkward script. Her mid-nineties jumble-sale look initially appears lazy and trite, but later compared to the exquisite vintage-goth look of the Gammons, the kitsch costuming makes perfect sense.
What this horror film fails at, is actually containing any horror. There’s gore aplenty, but we’re always prepared for it. There’s family tension, but not enough is made of it to enable it to be anything more than a plot device. Without intentional comedy to fall back on, it becomes a highly-stylised soap opera, with a dark, somewhat humorous outcome.