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By midlandsmovies, Mar 24 2020 01:27PM

Living in Crime Alley

Directed by Rob Ayling


A frustrated father contemplating an eviction notice opens this new Batman fan-film from Midlands writer-director Rob Ayling who takes the dark knight in new directions in his 9-minute short.

Played by Vincent Jerome, the father puts on a brave face in front of his daughter (Bella Champagnie) who is dressed up in a fancy-dress Batman costume. Explaining that he needs to leave, his support for his offspring’s playtime is undercut as he pockets a pistol and heads out onto the streets.

The film has its actors use (very convincing) American accents and the well-shot streets are suitably dark and oppressive as seen in other classic incarnations of the caped crusader. The intense score also helps sell the big-screen aspirations of the film, covering up its Midlands roots but also keeping us firmly in the seedy world of Gotham City.

A Batman and DC fan-film may be quite a rare proposition for local filmmakers but not so much for the Midlands it seems. Living in Crime Alley is the second such film which sits alongside Sophie Black’s Growing Shadows (review here) which took a different angle on Batman lore focusing as it does on Poison Ivy.

Appearing to have no other option, our father dons a balaclava to hold up a convenience store. This sequence is cleverly cut with the daughter who is playing and throwing batarangs back home, still dressed as her favourite hero.

From strong shadows, intense lighting and some city special effects, the film does a fantastic job of taking us into the world of Batman and associated iconography. When Batman does finally show, an excellent (and expensive looking) costume harks back to the classic Tim Burton outfit worn by Michael Keaton.

With a strong vision, Living in Crime Alley is a superb short with the director’s love for the world showing on screen every step of the way. And as well as the usual crime-based aspects of the DC world, Ayling adds in some emotional heft using the father-daughter relationship and giving a more rounded portrayal of a man forced into crime – and the effects on his daughter.

For most, it’s a great portrayal of a classic superhero but for fans, I recommend you certainly tune in at the same Bat-time and on Rob Ayling’s YouTube Bat-channel and check out this exciting tale featuring Bat-fans’ favourite watchful protector.

Michael Sales

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