The Acid House Paul McGuigan
Published Feb 01, 2000The Acid House hits you like a head-butt from a soccer hooligan. The screenplay is by Irvine Welsh (Trainspotting), based on three of his short stories, and it delivers about what you'd expect: drugs, scatological humour, anti-social behaviour and hyper-kinetic pacing. The screen is constantly filled with a parade of snarling, acned faces, all of them working-class losers who speak in a Scottish brogue, peppered with a dizzying array of slang (much of the film is subtitled). It's an even scrappier movie than Trainspotting, but unfortunately, it's also a lot more pointless. The film is at its weakest in the first and third stories, both of which indulge in a bit of magic realism. In "The Granton Star Cause," God comes down to earth as a foul-mouthed, middle-aged man, and chooses to take out his own self-hatred on a 23-year-old soccer-playing slacker. In the eponymous final segment, a wiry club kid (Trainspotting's Ewen Bremner) drops some "Super Mario" LSD and magically ends up swapping bodies with a new born baby. In both cases, the over-the-top satire ends up degrading into pure, dead-end spectacle. The second story, called "A Soft Touch," is much better because it's more rooted in kitchen-sink realism. It tells the story of Johnny, a spineless "nice-guy" whose wife cheats on him with blatant cruelty that evolves into torture. Johnny continues to care for their baby as his wife and upstairs neighbour engage in loud, violent shagging. He can hear them quite clearly because they knocked out a hole in his ceiling for an extension cord (their electricity was cut off). It's high praise that this segment approaches the bleak emotional territory of Mike Leigh's Naked.