First Look: Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis in Burke and Hare

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Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis are the stars of Burke & Hare, which unites the actors under the direction of John Landis. Based on the real-life exploits of Irish murderers William Burke and William Hare, who killed at least 17 people in Edinburgh in 1827-8, the film may not hew too closely to the tone and severity of actual events. It is being described at least partially as a comedy. Then again, Landis made some of American Werewolf in London quite funny without sacrificing the horrific tone. It’s been a long time since that film; can he make that recipe work again?

The Daily Mail has the first pics from the film, taken on set in Edinburgh. The costumes look great, properly layered and grimy. Beyond that it is difficult to get too much of an impression for the tone. But I have tremendous faith in the pairing of Pegg and Serkis. Can they strike the proper balance between comedy and terror? Absolutely.

The rest of the film’s cast is excellent, too: Tim Curry, Isla Fisher, Jessica Hynes, Tom Wilkinson, Ronnie Corbett and Bill Bailey. I’d be excited to see all these folks working together no matter what, but directed by Landis in a story about the UK’s first acknowledged serial killers? Now, please.

Here’s a slightly abridge synopsis, to clear up all the small details:

WILLIAM BURKE and WILLIAM HARE are scratching out a living in 1830s Edinburgh.  After yet another failed business venture, they return to Hare’s lodging house to find that their tenant has suddenly died on rent day.  As the boys decide how to dispose of the body over a drink, they discover that a corpse can fetch a hefty price.  Edinburgh is the centre of the medical universe and the city’s doctors are crying out for more cadavers for their educational lectures.  First they try the infamous DR. MONRO, but he’s not interested, so they sell the corpse to DR. KNOX, his vain and ambitious rival who urges them to bring any more ‘unfortunates’ they may stumble upon. Entrepreneurial Hare is quick to realize they’ve hit on a great money making venture and despite the more sensitive Burke’s misgivings, they embark on a series of plans to secure more bodies.  They arrange a series of deadly ‘accidents’ for the local unfortunates and to celebrate their success, they go out on the town to celebrate.  There, Burke meets GINNY, a beautiful and spirited aspiring actress. In a series of hilarious comic misadventures Burke and Hare begin to secure a steady stream of bodies and the cash starts rolling in.

 

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