By midlandsmovies, Jan 14 2019 11:31AM
SYNT: A Night in the Death of Jenny Taylor
Directed by Dave Inglis
SYNT is the debut film from Dave Inglis, a writer-director from Birmingham who previously starred in West Midlands short Eviction and has now turned his hand to filmmaking in this horror comedy.
With a cast and crew from Birmingham and Solihull, SYNT is a kind of faux-documentary about Keith Fairbanks (Dave Inglis himself) who is a part-time journalist and online bingo-caller.
But things go strange very quick in this story as Keith arranges an ‘interview with a vampire’ after an online audition and heads to meet Jenny Taylor, an octogenarian bloodsucker AND a prostitute to boot. Sucker indeed.
Giving its documentary feel, the film has been wisely made in a very hand-held style. The camera movements and slice-of-life discussions are like a dark re-imagining of BBC’s The Office and everyday mundane activities are shown in a comically matter of fact delivery.
The script has lots of odd-ball and surreal jokes and dialogue often seems improvised which keeps with the documentary vibe as Dave and his cameraman – Ignatious Orlando Fyke – have funny off-the-cuff chats on their journey around town at night.
Long takes again maintain realism and whole scenes are played out without cuts which is testament to the actors’ skills. In addition, the film is punctuated with inserts, text, pauses and more which creates some visually interesting editing. However, SYNT could have definitely done with more of this though, as the long takes can begin to feel drawn-out and it just about avoids the pitfall of looking too much like an un-edited home-movie.
I am aware however of a shorter director’s cut that the filmmaker has made for festivals and I think this would work better as although the film throws lots of jokes at the audience, the murky lighting and juddering camera verges may push audience's to their 'wobbly' limit.
Brent-like Keith continues his investigations on the streets with Vlad and others, and seems somewhat unaware of his bumbling interview technique as he not only portrays events but almost gets involved in them himself. From take-aways to kerb-crawlers, the film finds lots of morbid fun in seedy night time shenanigans and its new suburban spin on the classic vampire hunter.
Obviously, the film is most reminiscent of Taika Waititi’s What We Do in the Shadows with its mix of vampire lore, comedy and documentary stylings but with the director freely admitting to some personal troubles outside of filmmaking, SYNT feels a cathartic exercise. Dave approaches the production as a form of therapy, involving friends and family and focusing on a complex project yet with a humorous tone which is more than an honourable exercise.
In conclusion, at over an hour in length some viewers’ patience may feel as stretched as a vampire’s life span but SYNT has more positives than negatives overall despite its drawn-out feel. If you loved Waititi’s 2014 film then I’d highly recommend this similar local Midlands flick with its fun parody mix involving crypts and quips.