‘Young, High and Dead’ is a gritty British slasher movie which sees five unlucky stoners meeting their demise at the hands of a murderous paedophile.
On a drug filled camping trip, pitching their tent next to the makeshift grave of one of the paedo’s victims, the group soon find themselves entangled in the killer’s latest mind-fuck. If this wasn’t bad enough, conflicts within the group, an absolute vault of drugs, and the world’s most unreliable Ford Feista prevent them from mounting any form of sensible defence, as one by one their number diminishes.
The plot might sound like standard fare, and for all intents and purposes it benefits from being so, allowing the movie to get straight to the point, introducing the characters quickly and focussing on their plight, rather than drab sections which deliver a convoluted backstory which kills the pace of so many movies within the genre.
The whole paedophile element is fairly original, sadly quite current, and sets a sober tone for the film. This tone is carried throughout the movie, and there is no intent for this movie to degrade into a cheap camp cheese-fest; this is true gritty British horror. Indeed, for me, it was the tense atmosphere and grim undertones of the movie which really left the biggest impression. It takes skill to allow such a thick atmosphere to build, without the pace suffering as a result, but YHAD succeeds to remain gripping right to its conclusion.
YHAD is scripted well, with decent and pivotal set pieces at sensible intervals so as to allow the viewer to get comfortable with what is going on, to only then take the movie in another direction; often with the characters then showing a different element to their persona. The combination of the two couples, plus the token stoner tag-along, allows an element of typicality which you can relate to, but as I said, there is certainly more to them than their stereotypes might initially hint at! Credit here must go to the actors who deliver the goods on all levels, even in some pretty awkward scenes which involved child abuse and rape, which, whilst the camera shows little, the actors do enough to keep it feeling uncomfortably real.
The movie focusses a lot on these characters for much of the screen time. Enough backstory is told about each so that you understand their context, and through a brief road-trip section at the start of the movie, you certainly get a good grasp of who to like and who not to. The script is fairly witty in parts; the whole drug element serves well to add air of unpredictability about the actions of the group, and it certainly does well to overcome the all to frequent plot hole of why didn’t they all just get the fuck out of there when things looked to be going south!
Whilst taking a fairly silent role in the movie, the killer also deserves a mention. Writer Luke Brady writes his psychopath with a ‘less is more attitude’, further more adding to the plausibility of the scenario. Without the need for any tenuous backstory the killer turns up when the plot demands it, and makes all the impact he needs to when he does. There are some brutal kills, particularly towards the end, and although the gore is fairly limited the effects look pretty decent.
Overall, ‘The Young, High and Dead impresses on many levels. It’s a tense slasher, and whilst it might have benefited from a little more gore, it succeeds on maintaining an atmosphere which is in keeping with the mature theme of the movie. The movie is available on demand at here, and would be a worthy addition to any horror evening line-up!