Drop the Dead Donkey

Donkey Punch (Oliver Blackburn, 2008)

Funny, the exploitative trash you’ll end up watching when you’re staying at your parents’ house, flicking through the cable channels and looking for something to lull you to sleep. I am plainly not the target audience for this film, nevertheless I watched it so I’m going to claim my pound of flesh.

The shame about this film is that there’s the germ of a really good idea in there. For a brief window it dangles this idea before us, tantalisingly, but not knowing where to take it, it instead chooses to be a cynical/ridiculous addition to the already saturated market of teen horror spoofs.

To start off, we’re in Majorca and looking at a higher-than-usual budget Hollyoaks episode; Christmas special, perhaps. Pretty young people, golden beaches, glimmering blue sea. Three public school lads persuade three girlies from Leeds to step onto their enormous yacht for “one drink”. One of the girls isn’t sure about the idea, nor is the fourth posh boy who’s looking after the yacht.

The party have the excellent idea of sailing out of the harbour and far from shore, so that they can play their dance music really loud. They all swim in the sea and are given some E by the absurd faux-gangsta boy who talks like Ali G. As he tries to out-macho his friends, the bravado-addled conversation turns to urban myths about absurd sexual practices. These connoisseurs speak in hushed tones of the donkey punch; suffice to say that any woman feckless enough to sleep with any man that immature doesn’t merit much sympathy. 

For dessert, Ali G passes around some sort of crack pipe and the more adventurous holiday makers smoke something called Russian Ice. Sensible Boy and Sensible Girl go off on their own, have mature conversations and share tentative kisses while they gaze at the sunset. The other five film each other having an orgy. Ali G lets the youngest male, Sensible Boy’s little brother, have a go on his steed and encourages him to execute the aforementioned punch. The girl dies.

At this point, it’s an interesting conundrum. There’s no serial killer, just six idiots on holiday who have a corpse on their hands. Existing alliances are quickly discarded as the party split along lines of gender and class. The toffs keep reiterating that they’ve “worked too hard” (!) for their privileged existences to go to jail. Their solution is to throw the body overboard and say that the girl fell off; after all, she’s just some Northern slag. Trouble is that it would require the collusion of the girl’s two best mates. 

There’s some Hitchcock-esque fun as they struggle to get rid of the corpse. Initially it floats, the head bobbing up out of the sheet it was wrapped in. One of the boys has to dive underwater and tie a heavy metal object to the body before it will sink. These shots are probably the prettiest in the film.

The tension is not sustained. Everyone plots against each other; the boy who deployed the punch murmurs that the skipper is responsible for everything which happens onboard, people fight for possession of the camcorder tape. But there’s no reason to care about any of these spolit cardboard kids and we view proceedings with a jaded, detached eye as they go bonkers on their isolated yacht and tear strips out of one another.

There’s a stabbing, a suicide, a chainsaw murder, and one boy bursts into flames when he receives an SOS flare to the stomach. Whether you chuckle or yawn will depend on your mood and temperament, either way it feels like a cop-out. If gore is actually your thing you’ll probably find this to be the Lighthouse Family of horror films. By the end the sole survivor is Sensible Girl, who only had half an E and didn’t take part in the orgy; nice to see that public morals are still in ruddy health.

The actors try, direction is decently paced and it’s photographed well enough. The real problem is the pedestrian script and thoroughly daft storyline, and the sort of film it chose to be after the early catastrophe; I thought it was going to say something and it decided to play dumb. Then again, what did I expect? Sex and drugs and panto, I suppose; there’s plenty of all three.


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