In a nutshell: Neither macabre nor funny, if you really want to see it, at least wait till it’s on
Sunday afternoon telly
Burke & Hare Director John Landis has a pretty envious CV of quality comedies under his belt (Animal House, The Blues Brothers) as well as a few lemons (Blues Brothers 2000 anyone?). Unfortunately, with Burke & Hare, he’s be back in the citrus fruit section with a missable, boring and excrutiatingly unfunny “black comedy”. The
titular pair, portrayed by everyman Simon Pegg (playing Simon Pegg) and a hammy Andy Serkis, were a pair of grave robbers back in 1820s Edinburgh who started a new career as serial killers, earning their wages by selling said cadavers to Dr John Knox. Dr Knox dissected the bodies as part of his anatomy lectures. That’s the crux of the
story and, as you can tell, so far, so dark. Lovely jubbley.
Up the close and down the stair,
In the house with Burke and Hare.
Burke’s the butcher, Hare’s the thief,
Knox, the man who buys the beef.
Scottish children’s rhyme
While murdering rarely lends itself to comedy, films such as the wonderful Arsenic and Old Lace prove
that such black tales can be done, and indeed done well with a wonderfully light, tongue in cheek touch. Unfortunately, while Landis’s Edinburgh looks the part with lots of grime and muddy hues, Burke & Hare is not thrillingly naughty. In fact, it is when it strives for laughs with overplayed slapstick that Burke & Hare is at its most tedious. Of course, while it isn’t funny, Burke and Hare may have worked if it was either A. An intriguing portrayal of what is a
remarkable if ghoulish true story or B. A dark, creepy tale of shadows and nefarious goings on. It is neither. And an interesting cast which includes Pegg’s old comrades in arms, Jessia Hynes and Michael Smiley, alongside Isla Fisher, Tom Wilkinson and Tim Curry fail to ignite even a spark of interest or humour.
My advice? Don’t bother. The time you spent watching this would be much better spent hoping someone from the
Psychoville school of creepy (yes, I mean you Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton) takes up the tale and does it some justice.
PS – The 1 rating is for the at least passable Northern Irish
accents from Pegg and Serkis.