INSIDE NO. 9: SHEARSMITH AND PEMBERTON STRIKE AGAIN!
Being a big fan of horror and of British humor, it’s only natural that I flipped for the awesome THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN and it’s two main creators, Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton. For those of you who may have missed it, LEAGUE was an equal parts hilarious and sinister BBC show about the creepy goings on in the fictional town of Royston Vasey. For me, it’s a high water mark for horror comedy. Shearsmith and Pemberton, who are both gifted actors and writers, went on to create PSYCHOVILLE, another brilliant dark comedy gem and very much worth tracking down.
The duo’s latest collaboration is the BBC anthology series INSIDE NO. 9, which might even be my favorite thing they’ve done so far. Each episode is a stand-alone, with no repeating characters, with all of them taking place at a location with the address No. 9, including a creepy mansion, an apartment, even a barn.
Every episode is chock full of great British actors in supporting roles, with Shearsmith and Pemberton as the only repeating players. The stories range from black comedy crime stuff like the stand-out, almost silent episode “A Quiet Night In”, about the worst night in the career of two terrible cat burglars; to out and out gothic horror satire a la Hammer, as in the season 1 closer “The Harrowing”. The scripts are tight and the caliber of the acting is across the board great.
These guys are the real deal, on both sides of the comedy horror coin–extremely funny, with REALLY dark imaginations. At it’s best NO. 9 has you laughing your head off the whole time and then you suddenly realize what horrific undercurrents the comedy has been floating on top of. Woo Hoo! I can’t think of any other artists who can pull this off with such panache and creativity.
In any case, I HIGHLY recommend INSIDE NO. 9. If you can find it, watch it! (Season 1 is currently available at Shudder.com).