Ever since he began making movies, Mrs Murphy's son Geoff has injected a sense of the truly bizarre, the offbeat comic, the utterly irreverent into his stories. There was a time when he was making great entertainers with a serious heart, Utu, for example. Then he escaped to the void of Tinseltown where he sharpened his cinematic claws making flicks which were entertaining enough, but never lifted him into the top tier of film makers, even though they still had that wonderful iconoclastic humour which is his trademark.
Now, he has turned up with a cracker of an entertainer, a thriller where most of the usual suspects win, and the good guys end up as angels- if Murphy knows about the angelic.
He has gathered a gaggle of film makers and actors from New Zealand's hall of fame - Ian Mune, Merita (sic) Mita, Don Reynolds, Cliff Curtis, even Vincent Ward has a cameo as a lawyer - and they have all clearly had a real blast putting together a film which is a marker for the next level of kiwi film making.
While the well received In My Father's Den is top Kiwi stuff, it is still in the Kiwi art house category. Spooked, however, comes flying in as a Kiwi entertainer which could wing it with anything in the international thriller class.
No longer beset by shonky, unspeakable dialogue and messy scripting which was the bane of earlier kiwi flicks, this is deftly written, witty, sharp, and, cunningly contrived, even if the interplay with observer/commentator/narrator/-journo Cliff Curtis throws in the odd distractor.
Murphy has also lost the ubiquitous cello, instrument formidable of early Kiwiflickdom, and replaced it with an excellent soundtrack, including some great jazz riffs which are a foot-tapping bonus for the audience. The tale has a real New Zealand sensibility. A cameo from Ian Mune gives us a “Hey Dave, the computer joker's here,” and introduces the engaging hero Kevin Jones.
Kev's a kiwi joker who has troubles with his girl, hardly any cash and is gormless enough to think $10,000 is a fortune. But, in that thoroughly Kiwi way, he doesn't take kindly to being put upon, even if he is not quite sure what to do about it.
He's a computer whiz, refurbishing and selling used computers under the un original name of New Zeal Computers, and when he finds a job lot with a bunch of floppy disks attached, decides to clean them and offer them as an incentive to buy his secondhand PCs.
Then the proverbial hits the fan. The disks came from a bank already suspected of being the financial Laundromat of the South Pacific, and said disks contain valuable details which are evidence not just of tax dodges, but of money laundering on an international scale. It's Winston Peters and the wine box inquiry turned into terrific melodrama, and always with that unerring ability to take the mickey out of any situation. When a car runs off the motorway and is crushed under the wheels of a large truck, what is written on the side of the truck? Why, DEMOLITION of course.
Spooked dumps magnificently on big corporate bullying, has a real feel for a good story, and is delightfully different from almost anything else on our screens at the moment. Not to be missed.