Directed by Mitch Jenkins and written by the rightfully acclaimed Alan Moore, The Show is an odd movie high on ambition but falls ultimately short of the pure genius one would expect to come out of the mind of one of the most influential storytellers of the modern age. All the ingredients are here: the actors are amazing and do what they can, the visuals are trippy and unique, but the overall experience is a bit too slow and hard to sit through. I’m not expecting a blockbuster, effects-driven extravaganza here, nor do I want that to be the case, but midway through, I began to recognize an obvious pattern to the narrative.
Our protagonist, Fletcher Dennis (Tom Burke), goes and visits a weird character. The odd person would say strange and random things to him. Then, Fletcher leaves and encounters another weirdo, and they’d exposit more peculiar things. Rinse and repeat. No tension or mystery is being built up here. The story just follows this noticeable formula while ramping up the weird and camp factors. The Show is definitely more akin to a hallucinogenic trip than a traditionally narrative-driven film. While I do note the bizarre and original nature of the visuals, dialogue, and characters, the structure is anything but unique.
The story follows Fletcher, a hitman on assignment to kill James Mitchum (Darrell D’Silva) and retrieve a stolen family heirloom for his mysterious client. Upon arriving in town, Fletcher finds out that his target is already dead, but he is still required to track down the heirloom. This is where that aforementioned formulaic approach comes into play.
“…Fletcher, a hitman on assignment to kill James Mitchum and retrieve a stolen family heirloom…”
First, Fletcher meets Faith (Siobhan Hewlett), a woman admitted to the hospital for an accident involving autoerotic asphyxiation on the same night his target turned up dead. From there, he has strange interactions with vampires, demonic entities, a flamboyant musician who wears a Hitler mustache on stage, a spunky lady named Becky (a wonderful performance by the amazing Ellie Bamber), and more. Eventually, Fletcher comes face to face with a striking character called Frank, played by Alan Moore himself.
The dialogue throughout The Show is unmistakably Alan Moore through and through. It’s quick-witted and has a flow to it that makes every word feel important, even when it’s not. There are some fun interactions between Fletcher and those he’s investigating. The first that immediately comes to mind is when Fletcher has to go and see the Tims, two young boys, one of whom speaks in pulpy old-timey phrases and narrates his thoughts. The scene goes into black and white to nail home the obvious noir parody. It’s a fun and silly scene that had me laughing at the absurdity of everything.
The second memorable interrogation involves Frank, who looks like a glamoured-up Mac Tonight. As it turns out, Alan Moore is a fantastic actor and delivers his lines with gravitas and menace. Quite frankly, this scene left me shocked and impressed, and I’d love to see him turn up in more things, whether he’s attached as a writer or not.
The Show is macabre, campy, unique, and striking. There are some cute nods and winks to Moore’s previous and more famous works. As I said earlier, the actors are great at doing what they need to do to move things along, the scenes are well-directed, and the visuals are akin to a lower-budget Twin Peaks episode. Most characters have an unnatural feeling of aloofness that works well with the story’s ethereal sensibilities. But as much as I enjoyed the strong performances, otherworldly visuals, and the twisted sing-song dialogue, this doesn’t feel like much of a motion picture. Instead, it feels more like an experiment or a creative exercise. I’m okay with that, and fans of Alan Moore’s work should be too.
"…I enjoyed the strong performances, otherworldly visuals, and the twisted sing-song dialogue..."