Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Heckle (2022)

Streaming Service: Shudder
Movie Name/Year: Heckle (2022)
Genre: Horror, Comedy, Drama
Length: 81 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: Voodoo Media Group, Voodoo Productions, The Haunted Cinema, Evolutionary Films, Quantum Film Productions, Uncork'd Entertainment
Director: Martyn Pick
Writer: Airell Anthony Hayles
Actors: Clark Gable III, Steve Guttenberg, Guy Combes, Madison Clare, Louis Selwyn, Helena Antonio, Stephanie Leigh Rose, Natasha Starkey, Dani Dyer, James Littlewood, Jane Ledsom, Toyah Willcox, Daisy Humpherston, Samuel Jinks, Henry Osmani, Deborah Osmani, Peter Devlin, Gledisa Arthur, Brad Moore, Nicholas Vince, Lluis Foguet-Gonzalez, Mike Willoughby, Christine Randall, Rachel Clifford, Dave Nott, Stuggy, Giselle Fryatt, Dana Hudson, Jack Fairbank
IMDb Blurb: A stand up comedian encounters a seemingly insane heckler, who becomes his stalker. This is a heckle on a whole new level...

Selina’s Point of View:
I always knew I’d be scheduling Heckle for this month. Steve Guttenberg is a slice of beloved nostalgia for me. I grew up on stuff like Police Academy (1987) and Three Men and a Baby (1987). As I’ve grown up, I’ve followed the Guttenberg name to a whole host of films. I’ve even enjoyed his more ridiculous stuff, like Lavalantula (2015).
I didn’t watch the trailer for Heckle because I wanted to go into it with no expectations. With the involvement of Uncork’d, I knew this was going to be a bit on the low-budget side, but that it still had some potential. The thing is that the movies I’ve seen from Uncork’d tend to get me in the second half, rather than straight through. There’s usually some kind of twist that catches my attention. If the trailer revealed it beforehand, I might not have been caught by it. So, I skipped coming attractions entirely.
I’m glad I did. The trailer does ruin quite a bit and Heckle DID get me in the second half.

The first thing I have to note is that Heckle is not a comedy. It’s a straight-up horror drama. Don’t go into it expecting giggles, you won’t get any.
That said, the twist was something else. It completely blindsided me, but still made sense enough to not feel convoluted. When exposition was warranted, the creative team showed what needed to be seen instead of making it a long dumb speech. In that way, I think even big-budget films could have learned a lesson.
I enjoyed it. There was some suspect acting, some loopholes, and the story could have used a little tightening, but it still hooked me. It’s still going down in my memory as something I’m glad I saw.
Heckle is absolutely worth seeing for people who enjoy these smaller off-the-cuff flicks. Turn the lights out and make some popcorn. Just don’t expect to laugh. 

Cat’s Point of View:
I love the horror and comedy genres. It’s amazing when both are combined together effectively. It’s awkward and cringe-inducing when they are not. For a movie about comedians, there was an abysmal lack of comedy involved. If Heckle was trying to aim for that lightning in a bottle fusion, it fell far short. It really pains me to say that, too.
The way the trailer was put together, I had hopes that there would be some interjection of stand-up comedy sessions for the titular heckler to mess up – like a horror version of something like Foolish (1999). It built up a level of expectation that the film just didn’t deliver on.

I was intrigued when we were offered a chance to screen Heckle. I have warm and fuzzy nostalgic feels for Steve Guttenberg (Lookin' Up, Ballers, The Goldbergs) movies. The movies he was in during the golden age of my personal cinematic landscape will forever bring me comfort and laughs. I mean, we’re talking movies like Short Circuit (1986) and Police Academy (1984). This is why I was so over the moon for the Lavalantula (2015) movies. It brought back all those feels. Heckle under-utilized his talent. To be fair, though, his was the only performance that felt genuine. I hated his character – but the audience is expected to. He played a real jerk.
I had a hard time suspending disbelief to buy in that Guy Combes’ (The Incidentals, Kill Ben Lyk, Rookie) character was a comedian. He did a great job portraying someone who was rather unhinged, however.
Heckle was also generally hard to watch. The camera bobbed and weaved so much. I can’t tell if it was shaky-cam on purpose to give the slasher more of a helter-skelter vibe or if budgetary issues prevented a more streamlined experience.

Of course, I feel I must also admit that Heckle had the misfortune of following behind my viewing Scream (2022) last night. Much like the opening act of a concert blowing off the roof and the main event off-key and underwhelming in comparison; my mental bar was set too high for Heckle to compete. Try as I may to be objective and separate what I’ve watched before from the movie at hand, sometimes it is just not possible to avoid the comparisons.
It wasn’t all bad, thankfully. The practical effects for the slasher scenes had decent production quality and the atmosphere fit the theme, cinematically speaking. I also quite liked the retro feel of the soundtrack. I wasn’t expecting the direction the ending took, so that definitely elevated Heckle for me.
All told, however, while it wasn’t without some merit, I couldn’t see myself recommending Heckle to others.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 40%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 4.9/10
Trust the Dice: Parental Advisory Rating – R
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating – 3.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 2.5/5
Movie Trailer:

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