Within the first minute of Terry and Brenda, you’ll think to yourself – “aye, I know people just like these two!” Especially if you’ve grown up in working class Northern Suburbia. Much like The Royle Family and similar British comedies, Terry and Brenda sets the right tone of English nights in with a brew, a quiz show and a Bourbon or custard cream.
There is no denying that you’ll take one look at Terry and Brenda and shuffle awkwardly. These are the faces ripped from the twitching curtains of Coronation Street, only heavily more bleak and realistic. Get five minutes into Jamie Hooper’s dark comedy short and you’ll realise that there is much more to this happily married couple. Get ten minutes in and, as the secrets unfurl, you’ll think to yourself, “Aye, I hope I don’t know people like Terry and Brenda!”
What is brilliant about Hooper’s work is how he has written these fully-formed characters that probably waddle around the streets gas-bagging away with the neighbours. It feels highly likely that what lurks behind the florals are is utter depravity in its truer of forms. The cringey lack of sophistication of the couple feels true to form and Hooper wields the story well, with the camera lapping up the pair along with the audience. It’s intelligent writing, focusing on the married couple at the heart of it, rather than the surroundings or twists because the terrible acts that follow unfurl more shockingly. The pair leap off the page and the screen, so it’s understandable that Hooper would chose to develop the story around them, rather than fit them into it.
That being said, there is a slickness (and sickness) to the film and overall, it is quite excellent. It’s safe to say that you’ll be second-guessing what lurks behind the semi-detatched houses and the furtive chats in Asda. It balances the humanistic comedy of our leads (acted terrifically by Tim Blackwell and Debra Baker, by the way) with the skeletons in the closet of England’s street.
The problem here... is that you probably do know people like Terry and Brenda.
Terry and Brenda will be making its way around festivals. Make sure you get it watched. Safe word – red.