A stand-up comic finds his world turned upside down when he is stalked by a heckler in this thriller.
On Christmas Eve in 1992, American stand-up comedian Ray Kelly and his wife were shot dead by a home intruder in London. Years have passed and a biopic about Kelly is being made with rising comic Joe Johnson set to take on the role of Kelly. When Joe makes the announcement at a show, he is heckled by a mysterious person with whom he cannot see. At first, Joe doesn’t think much of it but when the heckler starts to harass Joe on a daily basis, his life starts to unravel.
While Joe has his group of friends, when he goes to a pub or coffee shop, Joe meets people who have learned about his role in the film about Ray Kelly. They tell Joe their experiences with Ray, which paints a different picture from how he is on the stage. Undeterred, Joe and his friends are invited to hang out with Evelyn, a fan of Joe’s. However, someone has followed this group to the party and this time, he is taking the heckling to a dangerous level.
This horror film from director Martyn Pick shows the dark side of the comedy world. While comedians are there to entertain and make the people laugh, off the stage can paint entirely different pictures. This is something that can happen in real-life. The stories and occasional tragedies have been told. However, for this film, it is more than a story about a comedian who learns the idol he will be playing in a biopic is not exactly the most likable of people, but also a horror film about a heckler turned stalker.
While he is given top billing, Steve Guttenberg is given more of an extended cameo in the role of Ray Kelly. In the opening scene, he is already killed. However, we learn through flashbacks in the eyes of people he has come across, we learn that despite making people laugh, he wasn’t exactly the nice guy he portrayed on stage. Guttenberg always makes people laugh, but this is one of his more serious roles and he makes the most of his screen time as a jerk offstage.
The film’s real star is Guy Combes, who takes on the role of rising stand-up comic Joe Johnson. Once Johnson is announced to play Ray in an upcoming biopic, this is where things get to go insane. He is heckled and then stalked by the heckler. The trauma of the harassment shows itself when Joe tends to feel depressed and worrysome something bad will happen to him. He even gets himself in a few altercations when he is confused. This is part of the trauma comedians can face when they are not onstage.
However, the hecklers usually stick to doing their thing while the comedian is performing but here, it becomes an obsession with stalking and in the third act, killing off Joe’s friends one by one. The heckler himself is played by Clark Gable III, the grandson of the legendary Hollywood actor. The film would be his final performance as he passed away in early 2019. However, with the third act, there are some shocking twists that being everything together.
Heckle is a great thriller that takes the connection between two interconnecting stories and in the third act, weaves it all together to reveal everything involved. At a 75-minute runtime, it’s worth checking out also for Steve Guttenberg’s exhilarating performance showing the dark side of comedy.
WFG RATING: A-
Uncork’d Entertainment and Evolutionary Films present a Voodoo Media Group production in association with the Haunted Cinema. Director: Martyn Pick. Producers: Giselle Fryatt, Airell Anthony Hayes, Jane Lesdom, James De’Val, and Mike Willoughby. Writer: Airell Anthony Hayes. Cinematography: Mark Barrs and Vince Knight. Editing: Jake West.
Cast: Steve Guttenberg, Guy Combes, Clark Gable III, Madison Clare, Louis Selwyn, Helena Antonio, Stephanie Leigh Rose, Natasha Sharkey, Dani Dyer, James De’Val.