It was also going to carry a lot less budget and the focus seemed to be less on the blood and gore and more about the character.
The film follows the character of Tony through a number of encounters he has with other people, encounters which reveal what kind of person he really is.
One of the best aspects of the film is just how grounded in reality the story is, not just in the overall plot, but in every aspect of the character and his development. It seems to be a driving force in the film, and despite some of the events seeming as though they come from the tale of an infamous killer, they always keep it grounded in his reality, that of his council housed, low income life.
The film also focuses on a period of the character's life and career early on, more when he's an opportunistic killer, and you don't really get the sense of him being one of these larger than life, media swamped serial killers that becomes part of folklore.
He's a much smaller character, and the scale might have been kept small for the sake of the budget and the scope of the film, it actually seems a very deliberate move, and a hugely effective one.
The film allows us to get to connect with the character, to a degree, and feel some form of sympathy with him before it turns to his darker side, and rather than leap into it hammers and chainsaws flying, it happens calmly, matter of factly, and slowly, taking us along with him for the ride rather than throwing it straight in our faces and scaring and shocking us from the outset.
That's the other thing you'll notice, the lack of straight up shocking horror and gore. Again the emphasis is on realism, and anything that will draw you into the Hollywood idea of a serial killer is kept at arms length to keep our attention on the lead character.
After all, this is more of a character study than anything else, and it's a very effective one.
We become aware of him as a human being before we are led to his darker side, and the beauty of the film is that it doesn't scare us away from him, even some of his crimes feel more understandable than shocking and reprehensible.
While it concentrates on the character, it also doesn't go too far and try and explain, justify or look for answers in the film, it just follows, and in many ways it has a feel of a fly on the wall documentary, without turning us into an unwitting accomplice or voyuer.
I enjoyed the film and did get drawn into the character more than I thought I would. For the reasons I've mentioned above, I found it easy to stay with the character and his situation, not that I'm saying you feel total sympathy for him or a connection, but you can sympathise and the film is very clever in the way that it allows you access to the character rather than push you away in horror.
The murders occur in different ways, and while he looks for a few of them, many of them happen when people are unfortunate to cross him personally, such as the man arriving to check his TV Licence. Other murders end up revealing something about the character himself, such as the man he takes home from a gay bar, the innocence of the character of Tony comes through, and his humanity is clear to see – he wants company, but not in that way, and when it's pushed it's the darker side of Tony that appears.
Another great scene is the one with the neighbour visiting, and that tells us more about Tony when something doesn't happen as when it does. There's some strong tension in this scene that I actually did feel, although not as much as the feeling that rises when the policeman enters the flat.
There are two aspects to the film that I've found have caused me a lot of uncertainty about the film and have delayed the review itself. The first being the side story of the missing child and the second being the ending itself.
Overall the film doesn't follow the standard story structure, but that's something that I find benefits it. For there's something more powerful in the film than simply churning out the standard ending for a film about a killer, this way there's even more feeling of a documentary, just showing him and his life rather than making the audience feel better with some form of look, everything is all right ending.
Something else that does come forward in the film is the subtlety of it, there's plenty of detail and small touches to the design of the film, particularly in Tony's flat and his costumes, but most of it in the story itself. Later on there are some explanations that hark back to the opening scenes, and while they may be small, it makes for interesting watching a second time, perfect for the audio commentary.
There are also some nice moments later on where we discover just a tiny portion of what goes on inside the mind of the character, and the voices he hears. I really liked how this was done, and that it took advantage of surround sound well. However I didn't think it exactly fitted with the style of the film to this point, keeping him at arms length and looking in. Still, the scenes give a powerful addition to the creepiness of it all.
DD 5.1, 2.0
The sound is mostly a stereo track until the use of the voices much later into the film and the rear speakers become much more noticeable and are used to strong effect. Other than that there's no real need for the 5.1.
At times the cinematography is rather good, particularly during the low light shots inside and the outdoor night shots. There's a grain to the film and a feel that matches the videos that Tony is so obsessed with, it also adds a visual feeling of reality to the film.
Audio Commentary with director, producer and lead actor, Mug short film, Tony short film
Tony Short Film
All the scenes from the short are in the main film, including the actor, and it's interesting to see how they, and the character, evolved into the feature length version.
Mug Short Film
Interesting short film, again with the lead actor of Tony. It does try and deliver something interesting, but I feel the ending isn't quite as powerful as it could have been.
Audio Commentary with Director, Producer and Lead
Interesting commentary that reveals a lot about the film, the acting, and the intentions behind the film. There's not a great deal on how to make a smaller film, but there are some interesting insights. Well worth a visit if you've enjoyed the film itself and the three get on well for the discussion.
Tony is a strong character film that features some good performances and a good script. The idea for the film takes us away from the expected serial killer film and presents something of what a real killer would be like in the real world, alongside real people, and it does it rather successfully.
The ending still strikes me as strange, but it is an intensely satisfying one. You'll know what I mean when you see it, but I do like the way that there's no Hollywood to this, it's all about letting you see Tony and what he's really about.