CRAZYHEAD *Netflix Original*
Directed by Al Mackay and Declan O’Dwyer
Written by Howard Overman
Music by Stuart Hancock
Cinematography by Anna Valdez-Hanks and Rasmus Arrildt
Film Editing by Simon Reglar, Mark Thornton, David Barrett
Casting by Rosalie Clayton
Filmed at The Bottle Yard Studios’ Tank House 2 and Green Screen Studion. On locations across Bristol, England, including council flat blocks for a main character’s flat, the M-Shed (as a nightclub), Millennium Promenade, Ashton Court Estate and Mansion House, O2 Academy, At Bristol, and a bowling alley in Brislington and Imperial Park in Hengrove.
Getting this out of the way: The obvious comparison everyone is using is “British Buffy the Vampire Slayer” so there’s that. I only watched that when I knew that Spike was going to be on the episode and even then… Not an expert on that subject.
Depending on where you are, you are either catching Crazyhead on E4 or Netflix. Maybe, if you are like me, and so many of you want to be, it happened to be a really crap week for film openings and you went looking for new Netflix Originals and Bob’s your uncle! there it was. You started to click (after changing your VPN, mind you). You took your hand away. You went back to new releases. Back to Crazyhead. Back to BBC. Over to iPlayer. Change the VPN. Back to– And the total stranger beside you in Starbucks broke a bottle on the counter and held it to your jugular until you picked one and backed away from the trackpad.
It’s not nice to make white supremacists cry. And it wasn’t even about my Obama “Like A Boss” tee. Huh.
Good decision. Good that it wasn’t my final decision. Let me say up front that I don’t think that it is a British Buffy. True, I haven’t been watching the original lady slayer in syndication, but the humour in that always struck me as trying to be very sharp and smart, never really self-deprecating. Crazyhead is smart and dry, but it is also taking the piss a lot of the time. The characters on the show and everyone involved in the creative process are not taking themselves too seriously and that is when you can relax and enjoy the laughs along with them. It’s not slapstick or broad parody, either; it’s knowing the genre and the inside jokes that the true fans/experts will get. It’s the difference between “No Sex, Please, We’re British” and “The Importance of Being Earnest.”
Rosalie Clayton and Urban Myth made very wise casting choices. One actor I was surprised they were able to pull away from the stage for the fourteen weeks of filming is Arinzé Kene, who portray’s Raquel’s big brother Tyler. In 2009, he was part of the cast of a production of “Been So Long,” which won a Edinburgh Fringe award. He has appeared in Eastenders, Hollyoaks, The Pass, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and written plays “Suffocation” and “Little Baby Jesus at the Oval House”. He is one busy and talented man, great in the scenes where he appears, both funny and empathetic, but those scenes are too few and too far apart. If we area lucky and this charming show makes it back for another series maybe they can expand the role of Tyler and we can see more of Kene (well, we’ve already seen most of him, skin-wise).
The trio who end up fighting the demons all around them have great chemistry. They don’t always get along, but that’s how all entertaining teams function. You even have a meet-cute when the two young women stumble across each other mid life-ending situation. Sure, there are trust issues, as there are in any new relationship, but Amy and Raquel need each other, not only to survive, but because it’s kind of hard to keep friends when they find out what you real job is. That doesn’t mean the trust issues aren’t going to pop up now and again. Raquel (Womoka) has good reason to have serious doubts about the people/maybe-people around her. She may have been training for this demonslaying thing for most of her life, but that doesn’t mean she makes the right decisions in every situation. Theobold… What do I know her from? Oh, right. She got her start on a show called Downton Abbey. Anyway, Amy’s abilities have always been more along the “dis-” spectrum, but they have become full-blown now, just in time for her to think Raquel is seriously mental and maybe she is, too. But, there is Raquel’s brother Tyler to consider… No! Raquel is nuts.
The third point of this triad is the most entertaining and the one with the chance for the most character growth. Lewis Reeves who portrays Jake is no stranger to the West End or the small screen. If the show returns for a second series, it will be a lessor production without him. When we are first introduced to Jake, he’s a bit annoying, much like a fire ant bite is a bit painful. Horny and intent on sharing his throbbing man-lust with Amy, he is
attached at the hip on-call any hour of the day or night that she and her new, snarky best friend need a ride to the oddest places. Like every male or female stuck in the dreaded Friend Zone, he thinks being there, being the one she can count on, is going to make her see she is really in love with him. While Amy and Raquel are becoming better demonslayers though, he is becoming a better person. If Amy can’t see that then– Oops! It’s important no one can guess who I root for in this.
Amy, Raquel, and Jake are off on some dangerous, life- and existence-threatening missions. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for humour, because there is plenty of that. Cara Theobold has an especially sweet way of delivering a pointed line that works beautifully with her character. Perhaps, because they previously worked together on Harry Price: Ghost Hunter (2015), Theobold and Reeves have a wonderful chemistry on-camera, giving their exchanges an extra layer just below the surface of the lines. Even when the three are united on a sortie, there is a discernible distance between Raquel and Jake.
One thing does bother me about the show and it’s not a tiny detail. Amy and Raquel are supposed to be in their twenties and the target audience (depending on country and prudity) appears to be 15-25. Susan Womoka is actually twenty-nine and Cara Theobold is twenty-six. No problem. They can both pass for much younger. The problem comes in the way they dress the women. Super-skinny jeans and leggings and loose tops are for a younger look when it fits. When the jeans are too skinny and they’re paired with a varsity jacket in every scene they give the undeserved appearance of being squeezed into something that is waaaayyyy too tight. It also makes Miss Womoka look too young, so that love scenes (if there are any) come off as creepy, not hot. She is too talented to be saddled with such a wardrobe faux pas. Season two: fix it.
Maybe we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves; there is nothing on IMDb about a second season yet. There’s nothing that says we can’t hope and re-binge, just in case. And if you haven’t watched it yet? Well, you’re missing out on a hell of a lot of fun!