Kill Ben Lyk (2018)

Review: Erwan Marinopoulos’ feature debut opens with a man in knight’s armour (Daniel Page) having sex with his mistress dressed as a medieval wench (Alexandra Naoum) in a modern apartment, before both are shot dead by a mysterious masked assassin. All this costumery in the service of kinky rôle play and brutal murder is a way for this London-set film to advertise its peripheral place in, and comic distance from, the traditions of British heritage cinema. For this is a contemporary caper in which Londoners who happen to have the name Ben Lyk (aptly pronounced ‘like’) – including the opening scene’s armour-wearing victim – are being taken out one after the other in a bizarre series of homonymous homicides. The eight surviving Ben Lyks, including a hapless vlogger (Eugene Simon, Game of Thrones), are rounded up by Scotland Yard and placed in protective custody in a country house. 

As these Lyks prove remarkably un-a-Lyk, differing in age, class, religion, ethnicity and even sex, Kill Ben Lyk offers a microcosm of multicultural stereotypes from the capital, arbitrarily thrown together by a name that is literally the only thing they have in common. It is a high-concept farce propelled by the frankly deranged plot of an alpaca-keeping mafioso (François Vincentelli) with a French accent (in a French co-production) whose interest in his musclebound assistant Bale (Martyn Ford) is more than just professional (because here being gay, like any expression of sexuality, is deemed inherently snigger-worthy).

Matching the broadly drawn cartoon characters are some very colourful building interiors, beautifully designed by Vincent Dizien and lit by DP François-Xavier Le Reste. Referencing Agatha Christie-style murder mystery tropes and films as varied as Some Like It Hot (1959) and Mulan (1988), this is a madcap, mercurial mess of tonal inconsistencies and misjudged gags – but as a mash-up of clashing styles delivered with energetic brio, it might just make Marinopoulos’ name. 

Synopsis: London. Mobster O’Sullivan has had his rivals killed and faked his own death, but vlogger Ben Lyk filmed the latter and fled, accidentally leaving behind a card with his name on it. O’Sullivan orders his henchmen to kill all London’s Ben Lyks. After three Lyks are killed, the remaining eight are brought by police to a country house – but one of the Lyks is in fact the hitman, while a policemen is also working for O’Sullivan. Only the vlogger survives.

© Anton Bitel