Directed by: Martin Owen

Written by: Piers Ashworth

Starring: Max Harwood, Ben Miller, Susan Wokoma, Hero Fiennes Tiffin, Ashley Benson, Evan Ross

Grimmfest Feature by: Darren Tilby

Synopsis: After the tragic loss of his mother, Oliver is threatened with state custody unless he can find a new family. And so Oliver does just that… by digging one up at the local cemetery. He must now convince the social workers that he has found the perfect family – who just happen to be decomposing… A modern fairytale – with zombies.

Grimmfest say: We know what you’re thinking: Ho hum…Yet another British horror-comedy about zombies… But set those preconceptions aside right now. This is something genuinely unexpected; a sweet-natured fairytale about the need for family support and social acceptance, inspired by one of the most notoriously disturbing criminal cases in history. An orphaned, unstable, otherworldly mother’s boy is released from the asylum, to return to the house where he grew up, only to start exhuming corpses from the local graveyard to serve as his new friends and family. Sound familiar? Yep, you got it. But while the story might resemble that of Ed Gein, the style and tone are closer to EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, owing far more to Tim Burton than to Hitchcock or Tobe Hooper, as the reanimated corpses become a real family and help the hapless protagonist to rebuild his life, in a perfect, retro-styled, pastel-candy-coloured suburban home. It’s as if Gein’s psychotic delusions had taken the form of a 1960s American sitcom. This is not America, but a bizarro 1950s British fantasy version, a kind of Transatlantic Otherworld, wherein the two cultures can clash and cross-pollinate, and pretty much anything can happen, however improbable or fantastic. Balancing wry genre knowingness with broad black comedy and a streak of pure grotesquerie, sharply played by a fine cast, and packed full of quirky, eccentric detail and sheer wilful oddness, it’s a film of (sur)real charm.

What I’m expecting: Yet again, the good folks at Grimmfest are right: there are too many British horror comedies about zombies. In fact, I’d argue that, due to oversaturation in the film industry, zombie films, in general, are becoming a little tiresome. However, The Loneliest Boy in the World sounds very interesting. The idea to take, as its foundation, the deeply disturbing story of Ed Gein and infuse it with the good-natured charm of Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands is either genius or madness. But I don’t think anyone does “black comedy” quite like the British! Ultimately, I envision this being more akin to the Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe film, Swiss Army Man, in its use of surrealist themes to tell a melancholy but sweet story about the human need for friends, family, and acceptance. In the end, The Loneliest Boy in the World’s success will likely come down to good writing and performances to really bring the characters to life (sorry!). I have my fingers crossed for this one, as I think it has the potential to be something very special.

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