TADFF 2021 Review: ‘Paul Dood’s Deadly Lunch Break’ is a Sparkly Underdog

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Directed by Nick Gillespie and starring a familiar roster of British comedic talent, Paul Dood’s Deadly Lunch Break is an oddly encouraging tale about growing through grief, following your dreams, and killing anyone who gets in the way. 

In the film, a sequin-spangled hopeful star named Paul Dood (Tom Meeten, The Ghoul) lives to livestream, sharing his timid musical talents with the few followers he has on an app called Trend Ladder. When tragedy strikes and his chances of winning a national talent show are dashed, Paul falls into a deep well of despair, and the only way to get himself out is to get revenge. Over the course of one lunch break, Paul and his sequined jumpsuit build a body count and a growing fanbase. His road to fame is covered in blood, but it sure is sparkly!

With a supporting cast that includes Alice Lowe (Prevenge), Katherine Parkinson (The IT Crowd), Steve Oram (Sightseers), and Kris Marshall (Love Actually), Paul Dood’s Deadly Lunch Break moves in several different tonal directions. There’s a darkness that lies under the quirky covers, but it’s not quite ready to go to sleep. 

It’s an odd journey, one that approaches topics of grief, acceptance, online influence, bullying, and the fickle fragility of fame. In a sense it reminds me of Spree, but feels less brazen in its social media message. Like Sightseers, it’s heavily dosed with a bleak black comedy, though it takes a while for it to kick in. 

Paul Dood's Deadly Lunch Break

While Paul Dood’s Deadly Lunch Break sounds like an upbeat goofy romp, the first act is really quite tragic, with many of the moments of comedy being at the expense of poor Paul. It starts off quite sad and a bit unsure of itself, but as it gains traction, the film — like Paul — finds confidence through the violent acts we see on screen. 

Paul Dood’s Deadly Lunch Break really shines when it hits these bloody marks and is allowed to revel in its eccentricity. It takes a while to find its footing, but the third act is a triumph for underdogs. Paul’s productive lunch break acts as a way for him to accept loss, and for us, it’s a reminder to leave the world with a bit less cynicism and a lot more sparkle. And don’t worry about who’s watching. 

Paul Dood’s Deadly Lunch Break streams through the Toronto After Dark Film Festival on Sunday Oct 17. 

iHorror – TADFF 2021 Review: ‘Paul Dood’s Deadly Lunch Break’ is a Sparkly Underdog
Author: Kelly McNeely
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October 15, 2021

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