If you saw Tony on the street, your reaction would probably be to cross to the other side of the road. His appearance, his speech and his undefinable creepiness will give you goosebumps.
And you’d be right to have this reaction because there’s a good chance that half an hour before you saw him, Tony was suffocating someone to death in his flat, then chopping up the remains in his kitchen sink.
Tony: London Serial Killer is the debut feature film from writer/director Gerard Johnson who’s expanded the story from his own short film. The short will also be a feature on the DVD along with another impressive short, Mug.
Lonely Tony lives along in his flat, obsessed by 80s action VHS tapes and murdering men only to slice them into man chops later. From looking at Tony, we assume he’s never had friends or any partners, at least not willing ones. He spends his time quietly drinking in the pub or trying to get hold of a prostitute, you know, the usual. But we quickly see that Tony’s creepy demeanor isn’t a put on, he’s a lean mean killin’ machine who either keeps a corpse (or bits of it) for company or cuts people up and throws their remains in the Thames.
If a character is a serial killer, it usually means that they’re very complex and have severe psychological problems. And Tony may well be complex with a freaky mental situation going on but as an audience, we struggle to make head or tail of him. This film doesn’t lay his motives out on a plate for you and with no FBI agents trying to catch him, there’s no one to explain away his actions. There isn’t much to know about Tony really, you just have to accept that occassionally he kills people.
His motives are never truly revealed though they seemed to be tied up in his ambiguous sexual preferences; he visits a gay bar twice but hires a female prostitute, probably just looking for companionship. There seems to be a touch of the paedophile about Tony simply because of his looks; his tall and slender build, greasy black hair and a pair of rapist looking glasses make him a prime target for a local thug (Ricky Grover) who’s searching for his missing son. He zeroes in on Tony, immediately accusing him of taking his little boy.
The handheld, close encounter approach is perfect for this film. Had it the sheen of a bigger budget film it would lose it’s punch, especially given the fantastic, uber creepy performance of newcomer Peter Ferdinando. The script is simplistic and feels improvised in parts and, considering the dark nature of the story, it provides an unpredictable tone similar to Nil By Mouth. While it’s impressively original, viewers might be left wanting an explanation of Tony’s backstory and a more solid resolution, but for Johnson’s first feature film, it’s a damn good start.