Bad Acid (2015, UK)

Bad Acid (2015) (19 minutes)
Directed by David Chaudoir.

Written by David Chaudoir.
Starring Tiffany Haynes, Tristan Beint and Madeleine Bowyer.

Bad Acid (2015)

Dreadful, haunting drug experiences; terrified, screaming girls; infinite failure and catastrophically poor choices – that may very well be the perfect summary of my early teenage years. Coincidentally, it also happens to be a few of the main themes running through writer/director David Chaudoir’s excellent new dark comedy/fantasy/horror short, Bad Acid.

Former TV hypnotist, magician and narcissist, Marvin Maskelyn, has tasted the big time. The sweet life of yesteryear once meant get-togethers with the Spice Girls at packed cabaret evenings and having the Prime Minister swoon within the palm of his magical hand.

Now, somehow, he’s dredging the painful depths of the pub and club circuit, disastrous performance following disastrous performance, desperately searching for something, anything, to fire him back into the midst of the fickle public eye once more.

After acquiring a ‘magic’ lamp (containing a stash of satanic-looking LSD) and at his wit’s end, he decides a mind-bending, mellow trip may be a blessed release from his never-ending cycle of alcohol and humiliation (and nothing says ‘tranquil brain-bath’ quite like acid adorned with occult symbolism, right?!)

Bad Acid (2015)

However, he soon realises he will indeed get the fame he so desperately wished for, but not in the way that he wanted it.

Although he’s previously directed music videos for bands such as Athlete and Starsailor, David Chaudoir’s debut short, Bad Acid, is a different beast altogether – his love of Hammer-style British horror is plainly evident and celebrated impeccably for the entirety of its 18-minute runtime. Beautifully shot and paced, we follow the excellent Tristan Beint’s anti-hero through tragic thick and thin, as the dark visions he encounters become almost(?) tangible – all the while being prodded and poked by amazing sound design that wouldn’t be out of place presiding over the classics it’s so obviously paying homage to, and treated to some slick visual FX that defy the modest budget.

Bad Acid (2015)

The dialogue is intelligent, inclusive (unless you struggle understanding us northerners! Bad Acid happens to be set in Yorkshire), contains some fucking great swearing, you wazzocks, and is brilliantly delivered by a solid cast, including Madeleine Bowyer – her performance containing my favourite comedic moment and inspiring Chaudoir to write razor-sharp monologue Adonis & Aphrodite – and Tiffany Haynes’ poor Bella, whose show-stopping lamp-rubbing scene genuinely gave me chills.

Bad Acid is a lesson for those who crave fame at all costs, however fleeting, and delivers in every area for classic horror fans; leaving us guessing right until its ambiguous end. With only a hint of gore in the form of crime scene photographs, it really is a fine example of how to stimulate the senses through suggestion rather than brute force – a little like hypnotism, albeit, erm, real – and manages to conjure some genuine laughs and hair-raising moments in the process.

Fancy a trip? If so, let David Chaudoir’s unconventional horror short, Bad Acid, consume you… and behold the number 3!

The Slaughtered Bird

Chris Barnes