Heckle Image


By Kyle Bain | March 7, 2022

Heckle, directed by Matyn Pick, follows Joe Johnson (Guy Combes), a stand-up comedian with a decent following, and he always seems to find success in his endeavors. Joe stands on the brink of greatness as he has just landed a major role in an upcoming film, wherein he’s playing his deceased mentor Ray Kelly (Steve Guttenberg). But an encounter with a heckler (Clark Gable III) changes Joe, much to the concern of those around him. Life is changing for the entertainer, and he’s about to face one of the craziest instances of heckling the world has ever seen, as the heckler begins stalking the comedian.

This may not be a fair assumption, but a film with Steve Guttenberg and the grandson of the esteemed Clark Gable seems like it should be well made, but I’m sad to say that my expectations were never met. Airell Hayles has written a ridiculous film full of weird twists and turns, unique characters, and an original storyline. Unfortunately, the plot eventually becomes convoluted, and the direction cannot bolster its deficiencies.

Let’s start with the acting. I’m unimpressed with what the actors bring to the table. I expected some silliness from everyone as horror and comedy merge. But the entire cast fails to reach viewers emotionally. While everyone struggles to express their lines appropriately, Combes is the most frustrating of all. He looks uncomfortable, nervous, and appears as if he was forced into the role. His poor acting robs Heckle of any chance it had of finding success.

“…the heckler begins stalking the comedian.”

I have no issue with the word “f**k.” As a matter of fact, I welcome it because it can often make dialogue feel more genuine, as the real world rarely censors itself. Guttenberg’s Ray Kelly —seen in flashback— lacks sophistication in his vocabulary, which adds a level of comedy, but “f**k” is literally every other word out of his mouth. It’s more frustrating than realistic. There just had to be a more elegant way of allowing the ruthless Ray to express himself while still being vulgar, but Hayles fails to find it. This is representative of the writing as a whole, which feels lazy and unappealing.

The narrative is quite interesting, or rather, it should be. We’ve all either been to a stand-up show, seen one on television or heard stories about a heckler in the audience messing with the comedian on stage. It’s common knowledge that the stand-up typically has the wherewithal to antagonize the perpetrator and eventually have them removed from the show. Seeing the opposite side of this scenario, where the heckler gets into the head of the comedian, is a welcome change, and I was excited to see how this would play out. However, even with as wonderfully appealing this concept may be, it’s ultimately drowned out, lost in the shadows of all of the shortcomings. The actors fail to fully inhabit their roles, the comedy and horror never co-mingle satisfyingly, and things become too hectic and overwhelming because there is just too much going on.

I think that Pick and Hayles’s heads were in the right place when developing Heckle, but they ultimately failed to execute their vision. The film is difficult to get through, and the strange blend of comedy and horror antagonizes viewers in a negative way, none of it helped by the acting nor their dialogue. As a result, the film never really gets rolling, and it fails to entertain from the very beginning.

Heckle (2022)

Directed: Martyn Pick

Written: Airell Hayles

Starring: Guy Combes, Clark Gable III, Steve Gutenberg, Madison Clare, Stephanie Leigh-Rose, etc.

Movie score: 5/10

Heckle Image

"…ull of weird twists and turns, unique characters, and an original storyline."

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