Long before Martin Amis' mid-'70s novel reached the screen, the shock value masking a country house whodunit in the Agatha Christie mould was already dated. Admittedly, there's rather more sexual and chemical mayhem, but the basic outline provides assorted English toffs, sundry visiting Yanks, and a mystery assailant in their midst. Writer/director Marsh's update on the material to a post-millennial near-future adds the Conceptualists, an anarchic terror group who advertise their atrocities on the Web, and whose deadly graffiti signature, 'Johnny', signals imminent danger for the drug-fuelled revellers at Appleseed Rectory. If 'Johnny' doesn't get them first, acid guru Marvel's pharmaceutical cocktails just might pitch them all over the edge. Presumably there's a satirical intent: the path of youthful excess leading not to freewheeling hedonism but further psychological turmoil. Yet the film hardly encourages us to engage with its woolly debate on how we pursue our freedoms when it's so gruellingly tiresome to sit through.
Cast and crew