Thursday, 13 August 2015

Angel aka Still Waters (2015)

Based loosely on a novel by Silent Witness creator Nigel McCrery, Angel (or Still Waters as it is also known) is the latest film by actor turned writer/director Ray Burdis, of Scum, Manchild and Operation Good Guys fame.

Angel (Jenn Murray) is a young woman who, as a child, was horribly abused by a paedophile ring led by her grandmother. At the age of 10, she finally snapped, murdering the old woman and, for reasons I couldn't decipher, her best friend. Though sentenced for the rest of her life/indefinitely to a top security prison for the criminally insane, Angel was actually released with a new identity due to inside governmental pressure  and pronounced dead in order to avoid a public outcry. Now Angel’s on the loose and killing again, and SAS operative Bradbury (Margo Stilley) is ordered to kill her in order to cover up the blunder.

As you can probably gather from that plot summary, Angel (or Still Waters, as it is also known as) is a very lurid and quite nasty little low budget chiller, which put me in mind of the kind of video nasty Pete Walker would knock out in the 1970s. It's a world away from Ray Burdis' earlier films such as Final Cut and Love Honour and Obey, but more akin to his more recent offering, the rather poor crime biopic The Wee Man. This is by no means a good film, nor does it see Burdis on any real form and for the first twenty minutes it feels like you're watching two films mixed up together (the SAS infiltrating Eastern European terrorists, and Angel befriending and subsequently torturing and murdering a little old lady) but the plot strands eventually converge and things start to make some sense. Just about. It's not an atrocious film as such, but it is rather silly.

Jenn Murray, a pretty porcelain doll like diminutive delight who was last seen in the BBC series Truckers, is cast extremely against type as Angel and her multiple personalities. It seems she came up for some flak for her performance and I can see why; she's cast perfectly for the sweet and innocent side of Angel's nature, but she's all wrong for the unsuspecting element of the brutal and sadistic killer, who is capable of hurling a man over the railings of a pier or sowing an old woman's mouth up. Murray gives it her all in these scenes but she's miscast really, and that isn't her fault really. 

You do however have to give Burdis credit for casting Georgina Hale as Angel's flapper dress wearing grandmother and Peter Hugo-Daly as her primary abuser, who dresses as a fairground Pierrot clown. They make an incredibly revolting and chilling pair! 

John Hannah plays DI Mark Lampslie, a regular fixture in the novels of McCrery, a detective who has the curious condition known as synesthesia; a condition which sees him 'taste' sound, but I imagine this a world away from the character in the books. As a film character, he has little substance to offer the audience and his 'romance' with ballbreaker Bradbury (who I believe is his detective partner in the book, but is now a tough SAS agent for Burdis' treatment) is particularly unconvincing and out of left field. It's also hard for a viewer who has seen Hannah in A Touch of Cloth, the zany send up of just this kind of grisly cops v serial killer drama, to take him seriously now in the real thing. 

Also in the cast is Mark Burdis - Ray's brother - as Hannah's dopey sidekick, and Karel Roden who sleepwalks his way through the role of a sniper assigned to the SAS for reasons unclear. Blink and you'll miss support from Richard Blackwood and Crissie Rock too.

Coincidentally for me, the final third of the film put me in mind of Tank Malling which I watched on the same day, in that it too reveals a conspiracy of systematic child abuse that goes to the very heart of government. It's certainly prescient given the allegations coming to light recently, but when Burdis decides to reflect real events with an allusion to Myra Hindley still being alive under a new identity it feels like extremely poor taste.

Despite only being released this year -albeit it straight to DVD - it's available to view in full on YouTube. It's not good like I say, but anyone who enjoys a bit of shock and schlock may enjoy it and at just 80 minutes it's no big waste of time really.


  1. What is the title of the song and what is the band name the background music scene where they have fight in the bar. I really love the music it sounds like Modern English was singing but it's not. I definitely love it but I don't know the title and whose the singer. ---- Thanks a lot: Hanley

    1. I'll take a look and see if I can come up with the answer for you. Failing that, someone else stopping by may know and get back to you

    2. I caught the name of 2 songs, angels prayer and star life, words and music by ray burdis