The King is Dead shows us what could concievably be a real life horror story about nightmare neighbours. Set in South Australia, it feels very believable and relatable but lacks any real punch with it’s laughs, which is a shame as the characters and plot are great, especially in the first half of the film.
Dan Wyllie (Animal Kingdom, Romper Stomper) plays Max who along with his wife Therese (Bojana Novakovic) set out to buy a house in what seems like a nice neighbourhood. Sadly for them, there are one set of neighbours that would win the ‘Neighbours from hell’ award. The opening scene involving them is probably my favourite of the movie as we see Shrek (Luke Ford) pumping vulgar music from his speaker in both the front and back yards.
The characters and actors are definitely the best part of the movie, with all providing some charisma but most importantly being someone you can relate to. Gary Waddell as the King is just such a funny character and his first meeting with Max and Therese is priceless. The movie has a good plot too - as Max and Therese progressively get more frustrated and things start to escalate.
When it comes to laughter though there isn’t that much of it. I found myself smiling a lot and I enjoyed the movie for the most part however the situation is so frustrating that it’s hard to laugh with any power. Still, there will be at least one situation in this movie that you will have likely encountered in your life, whether it be the music pumping at 3AM or the strangeness of some of the people encountered. I daresay The King is Dead will appeal more to older audiences that have had to deal with some of the issues put forward.
The final third is where I became a bit annoyed, as time went very slowly and a particular scene seemed to drag on. I found it to go from very believable to a bit farfetched however the human mind does think very differently in panic situations so I might let that slide. The final scene is both clever and funny so at least they finished on a good note.
I haven’t seen any other movies from director Rolf de Heer, so this was not a bad first movie for me to see. However, while the plot is good and the characters are fantastic, the overall feel for the movie was a bit underwhelming and often slow which lets it down. If you’ve ever had a horror neighbour story then you would probably enjoy it though! C+