Here’s an unsophisticated, ribald and trigger-happy “Knives Out” for those who like their whodunits with a tad more spice, bloodshed and profanity.
“Kill Ben Lyk” is a daft and dizzy Brit farce about a lot of people with the same oddly-spelled name who are knocked-off by some unknown assailant. That happens both before the cops are wise to the scheme, and after, despite the coppers rounding up the last Ben Lyks in London and (allegedly) protecting them in a safe house until they can figure out who is doing the killing, and why.
It’s the sort of comedy where the first murder happens in delicto flagrante, a Ben Lyk in a knight’s armor costume, ravishing an eager palace wench, shot at without effect until finally a hit is scored.
It’s also the sort of comedy where the pistol’s “silencer” is forgotten, at least in the opening scene. The shots are at full volume, because in the UK, they’re not as gun nutty or gun savvy as we are on this side of the pond.
Our protagonist is a Ben Lyk (Eugene Simon) with a vlog, which he compulsively feeds with his delusional video selfies and updates about how popular, charismatic and attractive to the ladies he must be.
These vlog entries inevitably end with Ben getting punched.
“It’s a niche,” he admits to his skeptical stoner pal Roberto (Dimitri Leonidas). “Might hurt a bit. But you’ve got to admit, it’s working!”
Maybe. Then he starts reading of other Ben Lyks in Greater London getting offed, and Our Ben starts to freak out. “Please don’t kill me,” he pleads in one vlog entry. Pay no attention to the mate in the corner of the frame. “Don’t worry about him. He’s stoned.”
After conferring with another Ben Lyk via Skype as the bloke is blown away, the cops come to take Our Ben into protective custody.
“Less chatting, more packing” the detective (Gretchen Egolf) and her crew demand.
Naturally, Ben finds himself in a safe house with seven other Ben Lyks, including a rugby-playing vicar (Charlie Raws), a banker, a generic punk and…a woman. Maybe. There’s some discussion of her (Simone Ashley of “Detective Pikachu”) Adam’s apple and accurate gender ID.
The ladies’ man Ben (Ashley Thomas) is instantly suspected. “Why are you all looking at me? Is it because I’m BLACK?”
The female Ben keeps coming on to the hapless vlogger Ben, only to shoot him down (not literally).
“I haven’t felt this way since I saw ‘Mulan!'”
And then there’s the REAL mastermind, the sort of villain who orders “When I say ‘Kill ALL the Ben Lyks,’ I mean kill ALL!”
The mystery isn’t all that mysterious, but the brisk pacing and banter atone for any real sins this shoot-em-in-the-temple comedy stumbles into.
A detective distracted by constant calls from her little boy at home, all those in her protection left on their own, accusing and shooting or shooting at each other, willy nilly, the real killer giving orders behind the scenes, and an alarming body count add up to a pretty funny triggerman farce.
Pretty funny, like our leading man, who rarely got to cut up as Lancel Lannister on “Game of Thrones” or playing the young Judah Ben-Hur in the recent remake.
MPAA Rating: unrated, violence, sex
Cast: Eugene Simon, Simone Ashley, Ashley Thomas, Dimitri Leonidas, Charlie Rawes and Gretchen Egolf.
Credits. Directed by Erwan Marinopoulos, script by Jean-Christophe Establet, Oliver Maltman, and Erwan Marinopolous
An Artists Rights release.
Running time: 1:20