The Young Poisoner's Handbook (1995)

Genres - Comedy Drama, Crime  |   Sub-Genres - Black Comedy, True Crime  |   Release Date - Feb 22, 1996 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 99 min.  |   Countries - Germany , France , United Kingdom   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Karl Williams

A deeply disturbing, wildly funny ode to the filmmaking style of Stanley Kubrick with a splash of the gothic gallows humor of cartoonist Edward Gorey tossed in for good measure, this debut film from writer/director Benjamin Ross transforms a true-life incident into a revamped version of A Clockwork Orange (1971). It's a slick, clever effort to mimic a master that might possibly offend Kubrick's passionately devoted fans. It should be noted, however, that Ross is really creating an homage so exquisitely detailed in its worship of the great filmmaker that it insists upon being forgiven and ultimately accepted as a deft work of astonishing craftsmanship. Darkly hilarious and piercingly satirical in much the same way as Clockwork, the film even reaches beyond Kubrick occasionally to fashion a more psychologically clear portrait of its twisted protagonist while zeroing in on its targets in a less obvious fashion. The narration provided for lead Hugh O'Conor is deft, setting the simultaneously mournful and cheerily optimistic tone, working beautifully at odds with the events unfolding onscreen. The Young Poisoner's Handbook (1995) is an audacious start for a gifted filmmaker who understands that if you're going to rip somebody off artistically, rip off the best.