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Dial 'M' for Killing

by Crab Crab Crab


Got given the choice of musical or splatter, and of course went for both! I dig it! Essentially a tail of bloodlust, as the requirement to be satiated by higher levels of claret spiraled out of control.

Driven by a chorus who sung and narrated from the side with many a pun and 4th wall break, our lead actress started her day badly when flies buzzed just a bit too much near her bed, but through the development of a nervous tick soon a handful of bugs don't cut it. Fish, birds, cats and old bats are all fair game when you dial M for Murder.

Honestly, utterly bizarre in tone but highly enjoyable. It had moments that reminded me of John Waters' early cruel dark humour mashed with Russ Meyer (the chorus in UP!). The songs were well sung though a teeny bit unclear in terms of lyrics. Lighting was fantastic where it was used also.

I think the story itself was just a bit singular in tone. It was highly enjoyable and whilst the lady became meaner and meaner, it was still sickly comic in how this was portrayed. By singular in tone I mean that as a story we never really had a dramatic question asked to drive the film, it just was escalated bloodlust from woah to go in my opinion. But I enjoyed it!

Story: 2/5
Technical: 3.5/5
Elements: 3/5
Overall: 3/5

When Crab Crab Crab go weird, they go weird hard, marrying bizarre practical effects with unique approaches to form, and this year's musical is no different. Except for being inherently different, because it's Crab Crab Crab.

This year the Crabs have created a film built up of vignettes that feel almost like silent-film episodes or an experimental stage show, with circular mattes following the action wherever it goes. As its protagonist escalates from killing an annoying fly to larger animals and beyond, her journey (all within her house, mind) is narrated, via song, by a Greek (and actual) chorus delivering some pretty great tunes. The music is ambitious and fun, and my fingers are crossed that the finals audience, should they see this film, sings along with the gloriously misanthropic final number.

The two downsides are the slightly muffled vocal recording, which renders the (probably great) lyrics difficult to hear, and the story. While the escalation from fly-swatting to matricide is entertaining to watch, it's basically a linear series of vignettes. There are no narrative gear shifts, no surprises other than the means to the end, and while the return of the fly is a nice button to end on, it signals a total lack of change across the story. Maybe that's the point - the human race just kills and kills and kills again - but as a short-film story it's wanting.

Still, one of the better musicals in Christchurch this year, and I wouldn't be surprised to see it on the big screen again. I'll just have to restrain my eyes from rolling out of their sockets at the (intentionally) CSI: Miami-grade groaners delivered by one member of the chorus, who knows who they are and what they did.

Loved it as always... A bunch of fun and totally weird. The songs, lyrics are damn catchy and I have multiple images from this bruned into my memory. My favorite is drinking from the bird.
Bloody well done *excuse the pun.

A super stylistically confident film - The Crabs have tackled musical before and this DIAL "M" FOR KILLING is the kind of film a team makes when they're subjected to repeating a genre - a lot more niche, a lot more focused, with a vision that feels a lot more specific.

The direction here, as well as the art direction, the acting and the fun blood and guts effects, are all great, as is the music, of course, however the lyrics are VERY difficult to make out for 80% of the film - lyrics which are not only the narrative hook but the comedic hook of the whole story. Without this you're left listening to songs which you know are supposed to be funny, but you can't really hear the specific jokes.

As Andrew said above as well, there's not much of character arc here, just escalation, and maybe that would have helped too.

I think this is very close to being something very special and unique, but ultimately let down by the sound mix. I would love to see the Crabs take on something as similarly ambitious next year, though I do miss the token terrifying creature which you usually include every year hahhaha.

Things you got right: A confident film which is firing on most fronts

Things to work on for next time: If you're doing songs in a comedy musical, hearing those lyrics is essential.

Another Crab Crab Crab classic! Loved the escalation as usual, bit hard to hear it but the bits I did hear were spot on - loved the puns finishing off each song, and F*ck you Grandma was my personal favorite song from all the films watched this year, "grandmas gotta goooo!"

I think what maybe fell short for this one compared to some of your other amazing 'dark escalation' films was the lack of understanding around who the character was. In previous years, you've had setups with characters that have a reason for their downfall - the most obvious in my opinion being why the dude from "Wheat Myself and Rye" gets crazier and crazier over time, we understand why, and that's why we love it - so while we loved how this lady goes nuts, what we didn't know was why, and that why is pretty essential to a fully formed tale.

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