May I Kill U? review (DVD)

Barry Vartis (Bishop) is a cop – a bobby patrolling the mean streets of London. To be precise, he's a bicycle patrolman. He has a partner who's quite fond of him, and an abusive mother who he still lives with. He's also a little bit of a serial killer – but a very polite (and grammatical) one, always askling his victims, may I kill you?

A very black comedy cum social commentary, May I Kill U? feels a little like a reaction to London's summer riots of 2011. It's not – writer-director Urban had begun work on the film before the riots took place. but they do feature in the film. In fact, Baz's first victim is a teenage rioter, who's fittingly despatched by being beaten to death with the plasma TV he has stolen. Baz films the whole thing with his helmet-cam, and posts the video online anonymously. Soon he's a social media hero, tweeting eith the username @N4cethelaw and generating buzz on the film's equivalents of Facebook and YouTube. He kills a wife-beater, a drug dealer and Bulgarians who are trafficking women as prostitutes. Baz even takes home one of the rescued women, Maya (Koleczek), which enrages his mother.

May I Kill U? doesn't endorse the vigilantism seen in the film. It portrays Baz as a disturbed individual, suffering from migraine headaches and a man who is deeply disturbed by his upbringing. Baz even claims: "I'm not a murderer, I'm a death facilitor." The film does take a dig at the rise of social media celebrity, as well as some of the kneejerk sentencing that arose form the 2011 riots.

It's certainly entertaining and thought-provoking, and very funny in places. But there are a few tonal shifts that don't quite work as it swings from social satire to a bit of a gorefest. That said, it's got great production values for such a low-budget effort, a great performance from Bishop and a sharp, clever script. And it's a truly fresh, original idea, which is all too rare these days.

EXTRAS ★★★½ An audio commentary with writer-director Urban and star Bishop; a making-of documentary (24:42); an interview with Urban (8:56); an interview with criminal psychologist Dr David Holmes about serial killers and the character of Baz (13:41); out-takes (1:07); and behind-the-scenes clips (2:51).• Interview: Hayley-Marie Axe

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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