BANJO (a.k.a. My Bloody Banjo) *** UK 2015 Dir: Liam Regan. 82 mins

Writer-director Liam Regan’s feature debut is an adaptation of his earlier short “Confessions Of Peltzer” and features James Hamer-Morton as a foppish loser equally bullied by his sexually insulting, cheating girlfriend (Dani Thompson) and his relentlessly cruel boss (Vito Trigo). To get even, he summons his childhood imaginary friend Ronnie (Damian Morter), who helped him out with a massacre back in his miserable school days.
With genre-centric character names (Toulon, Sawyer, Peltzer) and the backdrop of a town named Henenlotter, BANJO wears its influences on its (self-conscious) sleeve, roping in Lloyd Kaufman as “Dr Samuel Weil” to reinforce the tonal and stylistic echoes of various Troma movies. It sadly inherits some of Troma’s most irritating traits (notably at least three performances that are abrasive and annoying rather than funny), but delivers some crowd-pleasing grimness, including a stand-out penis trauma sequence and a chainsaw cranium bisection. The many 80’s nods (brick mobile phones, a party montage) are reinforced by Morter’s enjoyably lewd antagonist – a cackling hybrid of Freddy Krueger and Rik Mayall in DROP DEAD FRED who relishes any opportunity to cause havoc with used tampons and a syringe of the HIV virus. Shame the employment of (awkward) American actors and Americanisms prevents the film from being a distinctively “British” take on Troma territory. Laurence R Harvey has a diverting supporting role as another victimized office worker.

Review by Steven West

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