Dead Along The Way, the first feature length film from writer and director Maurice O Carroll is a black comedy that zips along thanks largely to some wonderfully sharp writing and more than a little charm. It follows the exploits of Johnnie “Wacker” McGrath and his cohort Tony, two wedding videographers, who find themselves embroiled in murder, theft and a bloody love-triangle, all with some over-zealous Gardai breathing down their necks.
Crafted on a shoe-string budget, the intelligent use of just a handful of locations and characters means it never feels restricted. The story is actually better served by the fact that the scope of the plot is pared down to just the essential characters needed to advance it, and the savvy, sometimes showy dialogue crackles with energy. Things are helped by the fact there is a genuine chemistry between the two leads, and, dark as the premise is, the humour for the most part finds it’s mark.
Influenced by the likes of Peter Berg’s Very Bad Things and Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, the tone of the movie treads a narrow line between black comedy and out and out slapstick. Unfortunately, depending on which set of characters is on screen, the story at times finds itself mired in sub-plots that don’t really contribute much to proceedings. Side-stories involving two pregnancies aren’t fleshed out enough to have any impact, while another involving a character’s health and his subsequent attempts to reconnect with an old flame amounts to nought and becomes tedious before it starts to stagnate altogether.
Luckily the plot bursts into life whenever Wacker and Tony are left to tackle the mounting crisis they face, and O Carroll has done a marvellous job in steering the duo through each dilemma while maintaining a palpable sense that any minute the whole thing could derail for them. Both Ciaran Bermingham and Niall Murphy are wonderful in their respective parts, with the script playing to their strengths and allowing them to flex their comedic muscles in their own individual way. Murphy has charm and charisma to spare and for a first-time actor he is a revelation.
Dead Along The Way skates by on some fantastic chemistry and very good performances and for every misstep there’s twice as much to praise and admire. It is as funny as it is likeable, and thanks to some confident direction and a smattering of strong characters, delivers an entertaining and endearing story of love, revenge and murder.