Director: John Landis
Cast: Simon Pegg, Andy Serkis, Isla Fisher, Tom Wilkinson, Jessica Hynes, Ronnie Corbett.
EXPECTATIONS can be a bad thing for movies, and Burke And Hare is a good example of this.
Everything about this film makes you think it will be brilliant. It's got that guy from Hot Fuzz and Shaun Of The Dead in it. And Gollum. And the bearded guy from Black Books (without a beard). And one of the Two Ronnies. And it's made by the guy who made The Blues Brothers and Trading Places. And it's about grave-robbers. And it's a comedy. You would expect it to be, at the least, a pretty funny movie.
Burke And Hare is sadly disappointing. Yes, it's sporadically funny, but when it does make you laugh, it's not out loud.
Pegg and Serkis are Burke and Hare, the real-life grave-robbers who graduated to serial killers in order to supply fresh corpses to the anatomy lecturers of 19th century Edinburgh.
Naturally there are complications in such an endeavour. The recently deceased (or easily killable) can be hard to find, the city's gangsters want a cut of the profits, Burke has fallen in love with wannabe actress Ginny (Fisher), and the police (led by Corbett) are closing in.
Landis has a past knack for horror (An American Werewolf In London, Michael Jackson's Thriller) and while the movie gets the look of 1800s Edinburgh right, it lacks the chill and atmosphere that would suit this tale. The director also isn't helped by a script that seems to skip along too fast, giving us just enough time to empathise with the grave-robbers but little else.
The biggest tragedy is the lack of comedy. Bill Bailey bookends the film as a narrating hangman and is sadly wasted, Pegg seems to struggle in places, and the overall potential for laughs is big but the delivery is small.
It's not a total waste of time, and the presence of Serkis and Fisher elevates things. But you can't help but feel disappointed.
Damn you, expectations.