The Acid House is three short stories played out one after the other, each written by Trainspotting’s creator, Irvine Welsh, a man who certainly doesn’t mince his words when it comes to the script. I’ll describe each film in turn but note that this isn’t one of those films where the separates stories tie up together at the end. I’ll also rate each film out of 10.
The Granton Star Cause:
- Boab (Stephen McCole) has it all. He lives at home with his parents, he has a place in the Granton Star football team and he has a gorgeous girlfriend. Things start to go wrong quite soon though as little by little he loses the team position and his parents, who seem quite modest at first until you witness them later on, ask him to move out in the next two weeks as they want the house to himself. He thinks the answer is to move in with his girlfriend Evelyn (Looking For JoJo‘s Jenny McCrindle) but suddenly she’s decided they’re through.
Everything’s going wrong for Boab… and then he meets God in a pub, who changes his life for ever. To describe what happens would rob the twist in the tale, but it’s safe to say that this short story is a perfect example of getting right what many films get wrong. Films where the central character has nothing but a run of bad luck are ten-a-penny, but to find one with a well-crafted ending as his luck gets worse are a rarity.
A Soft Touch:
- Johnny (Kevin McKidd) is just that – a soft touch. He lives a poor life in a squalid flat with his rag-doll wife Catriona (Michelle Gomez) and their daughter. Their life is rarely eventful. That’s until the original neighbour from hell moves in upstairs. His name in Alec (Tam Dean Burn). At first he just seems over-friendly as he turns up unannounced, drinks Johnny’s beer and stays beyond his welcome – at least beyond Johnny’s welcome. Catriona doesn’t mind him staying at all.
It’s not long before he borrows a few things including his beer, his TV, his electricity supply and even his wife! When Johnny hears the grunting going on above, he appears to ignore it and goes to visit his Mum. What plays out as an excellent short film falls apart at the end as you’re waiting for a massive knee-jerk reaction from Johnny…which doesn’t come because of the fact that he’s a soft touch…
The Acid House:
- Coco (Ewen Bremner – T2 Trainspotting) takes many a happy-tab as he enjoys raves and clubbing with his girlfriend Kirsty (Arlene Cockburn). Elsewhere, Rory (Martin Clunes) and Jenny (Jemma Redgrave) are about to welcome their new baby son into the world. That night there’s an electrical storm brewing which strikes both Coco and the ambulance containing the happy couple.
In an instant, Coco’s mind is swapped with that of the baby, leaving himself managing to speak no more than a gurgle and the baby making his first choice of words as a string of four-letter ones. It sounds like the sort of premise which shouldn’t work but somehow it does as it’s always fascinating to find out what happens next. Sadly, there’s not as much of Martin Clunes in it as the trailer promises.
The picture quality is very good but does have some artifacts on view. That said, they won’t be very noticeable from the normal viewing distance. The film is presented in its original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1, the picture being 16:9-enhanced for widescreen televisions and it has a fine average bitrate of 4.65 Mb/s, sometimes peaking over 8Mb/s.
The sound is used brilliantly in a lot of the scenes with many surround sound moments brought in when most directors wouldn’t usually bother. The soundtrack features music from The Verve, The Chemical Brothers, Oasis, Belle & Sebastian, Beth Orton, Primal Scream and Bentley Rhythm Ace, but for my money the track which comes in at the most perfect moment is Jack L.’s Summer Wind. The sound is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 (Dolby Surround) and in typical VCI/Film Four fashion, the only language available is English.
The extras for The Acid House are as follows:
- Chapters & Trailers: There are 18 chapters spread throughout the 106 minutes of the film with five each for the first and last films, six for the middle portion and one apiece for the opening and closing credits. The theatrical trailer is included.
- Languages/Subtitles: As is usual with VCI and FilmFour releases, subtitles are an alien concept and there is just the one language spoken, albeit in Dolby Digital. It’s a shame there are no subtitles to this film as the harsh Scots dialect isn’t always easy to decipher.
- Photo Gallery and DVD-ROM content: There are six photos to each short story which can be viewed on your TV screen or printed out when the photos.htm file is run from a DVD-ROM player. When watching on the DVD, each section is preceeded by a film clip summarising parts of that story.
- Menu: On booting up the DVD, if you thought you can’t skip past the VCI and Film Four logos and copyright info, then think again. I pressed STOP on my DVD-ROM player, then selected “Title Menu” and it bypassed the whole lot which normally seems to go on for ages, taking you straight to the start of the film. Alternatively, if you have previously saved a bookmark then you can run it at any time.
Clicking on the menu options works well and most of the menus are static but contain music from the film.
I did have one problem with this DVD. During the end credits, trying to fast forward the end credits results in my Creative Dxr2 DVD-ROM player crashing. The credits play out as normal, but I can no longer use the player and have to close it down by pressing CTRL, ALT and DELETE together in Windows 98 and then selecting to close down the DVD-ROM player. This also happens on the recent Entertainment in Video titles Last Man Standing and Tombstone.
Back to the film though and overall, this is a great one even if the three short acts don’t complement each other in terms of content. There’s not a great deal in the way of extras, but it’s a rare DVD that comes out before it’s American counterpart and since it’s only made their cinemas in early August, they won’t be getting the DVD this side of the millennium.
The Acid House is out now on DVD.
Running time: 106 minutes
Studio: Film Four
Region(s): 2, PAL
Cat no. VCD0013
Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0
Disc Format: DVD 5
Director: Paul McGuigan
Producer: David Muir, Alex Usborne
Screenplay: Irvine Welsh
Music: The Verve, The Chemical Brothers, Oasis, Belle & Sebastian, Beth Orton, Primal Scream, Bentley Rhythm Ace, Jack L.
Coco: Ewen Bremner
Rory: Martin Clunes
Boab: Stephen McCole
Evelyn: Jenny McCrindle
Jenny: Jemma Redgrave
Johnny: Kevin McKidd
Kirsty: Arlene Cockburn
Catriona: Michelle Gomez
Alec: Tam Dean Burn
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.