Last year’s winner of Best Self-funded Feature at the NZ Film Awards may be labelled as the Kiwi Breaking Bad, but a more apt description would be Requiem for a Dream meets The Hangover. The quartet of characters is full of men failing at some aspect of their lives: Jeremy Birchall’s angry racist Priest is two steps away from total Tourette’s; Alvin Maharaj’s wannabe Indian actor can’t compete with his Colin Mathura-Jeffree-esque rival; Preston O’Brien’s psychologist is as gawky as he is unsuccessful; Kurt Stowers’ used car salesman is simply a narcissistic wank-nugget. Instead of dealing with their life problems responsibly, they take crack instead – the “easy way out” – causing a downhill decent into desperation and alternative addictions.
You never once root for these characters to score more crack, but you’re always fascinated to see the creative buffoonery that unfolds – from impersonating a Hindu police officer to drug-fixing a horse race. Their various meth freak-outs are just as priceless, with Birchall giving a knee-slappingly funny portrayal of a priest trying to give a sermon after snorting rock while O’Brien’s face gets sweatier and soggier as his character’s dependency grows (his acid-trip is also a hilarious highlight). However, the film is at its best when the four leads are bundled together, unloading asinine exchanges (“How do you get red wine out!?” “I don’t know… milk?”) and nailing the more subtle gags (playing charades while waiting for meth supplies). Crackheads rides on this excellent comedic camaraderie, and is ultimately its greatest strength.
Despite writer-director Tim Tsiklauri’s fantastic ability to shoot around a scant budget, unfortunate production short-comings occasionally emerge – the cheap VFXs in the climax are distractingly dodgy and parts of the musical score feel like you’ve been put on hold by the customer services hotline. There’s also the odd gag, like a dated rip into the decade-old Zumba craze, which falls flat and some dicey racial digs that even scratched my high level of tolerance. But these few faults are easily forgivable for a superbly crafted self-funded movie, heavily condensed with quality humour.
‘Crackheads’ Movie Times