Reviewed by Scott A. Johnson
Starring Peter Ferdinando, Lorenzo Camporese, Frank Boyce, Lucy Flack
Written and directed by Gerard Johnson
Distributed by Revolver Entertainment
Ever notice how it's always the quiet nerdy guys who turn out to be serial killers?
Tony is a movie about one such quiet nerdy fellow. Unemployed, socially inept, and hopelessly addicted to porn and action VHS movies, Tony is a man who is, in most respects, pathetic. He's been on unemployment for twenty years, has no idea how to interact with people, and is just plain goofy looking. However, he doesn't seem to have a problem with killing people, hiding their corpses, and possibly having sex with them.
There is a whole lot that this indie-budget film does remarkably well. To begin with, the production itself is dirty, gritty, and shows a poor, down-and-out side to London that most people don't think of. With minimal sets and camera work, Johnson deftly gives the viewers an almost uncomfortable glimpse into Tony's neighborhood and life. More than screaming "this is a film!," the production gives the feeling of real life without picture-perfect buildings or too beautiful actors. A huge amount of that realism and power are thanks to Peter Ferdinando's portrayal of Tony. With his bumbling, unsure, and awkward nature, he becomes a sympathetic character who the viewer wants to like. But when the killing time comes, Tony's cold, detached, and chilling. He's especially spooky when he's talking to the corpse in his bed as if it were still alive, asking it if it wants a cup of tea or breakfast.
But for all its wonderful parts, the movie falls down for a couple of reasons. The first problem is the plot, or lack thereof. We're not told a story here so much as we're shown a slice of his life. No point really, just "here's Tony...and he kills people." We follow him around to a gay bar, to a drug den, and to a hooker's bedroom; but there's no real story here. The one plot point that could've been a wonderful story (a missing kid) is glossed over and all but forgotten. Second, while I have no problem with his frequency or methods of killing or disposing of the bodies, I do take exception to the filmmakers' portrayal of the actions. On the one hand, it's very realistic in that we're shown Tony hacking apart body parts like so much raw meat, and they don't shy away from it. However, if it was meant to be realistic, why is there no blood to speak of? Hacking a person apart or hitting him in the back of the head creates, at the very least, a blood spatter. However, Tony walks around in a white shirt that remains white, even when he's cutting apart bodies in his bathtub.
The special features on the DVD are a little on the anemic side with one commentary track and two short films. The first short, "Mug", begins well with a thief stealing backpacks throughout London. And while it is just as gritty and well shot as the feature, it also goes just about nowhere. The mugger steals the wrong purse and then...nothing. With the second, the short version of Tony, the story plays better but sacrifices the look and feel that was built in the feature version.
Tony is an easy film to like. The production itself is moody and dark and showcases the director's talent. Likewise, the actors all turn in top-notch performances. It's just too bad that they didn't have somewhere to go with them.
3 out of 5
2 out of 5
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