Stitches (18) 86 mins **
The staple delights of Ross Noble’s stand-up performances arrive when the comic veers off the beaten track. Here, he does something similar career-wise, turning up in a knockabout Irish splatter pic apparently targeting adolescent males still giddy from their first lager shandy. Noble’s playing Richard “Stitches” Grindle, a down-at-heel clown who, during one especially fractious party, takes a fatal stumble onto an upturned cake knife. Years later, he’s back from the grave to have some fun at the expense of the brats responsible, now a group of horny, spotty teens planning the night of their lives. As we’re told: “Jokes are less funny the second time round.”
Getting the jump on Hollywood’s upcoming Carrie remake, co-writer/director Conor McMahon redraws the teen-vengeance cycle as a fitfully amusing cartoon. Goofy, trash-talking, not-quite-believable youngsters get ripped apart or turned into human balloon animals; the script is all knowingly crap puns and gross-out business pitched around waist height. A couple of nice performances splash about amid the ample gore – not least from Noble himself, walking in the elongated footsteps of Tim Curry’s coulrophobia-generating turn in It – but it’s already hovering over the 24-hour garage’s DVD bargain bin.
Stitches is on selected release.