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Egomaniac – Review


Release Date: 28 August 2016
Director: Kate Shenton
Writer: Kate Shenton
Cast: Nic Lamont - Adam Rhys-Davies - Laurence R. Harvey



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Posted September 4, 2016 by

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Egomaniac Review:

Kate Shenton’s latest feature, which made its debut at FrightFest last weekend, is allegedly based on a true story, although the director refuses to be drawn on which incidents exactly have been plucked from her real life experiences. But this comedy horror about trying to make a comedy horror (or a ZomRomCom to be precise) will definitely have a ring of familiarity to anyone who has ever tried to create something, only to have their artistic vision eroded in the name of commercial viability. And judging by the belly laughs coming from the audience at the premiere, many in attendance knew that feeling all too well…

egomaniac review

The titular Egomaniac is Catherine Sweeney (the always fabulous Nic Lamont of Twins Macabre fame), a passionate young filmmaker with a short and a feature documentary under her belt, but limited success on the festival circuit. Promised a million by a sleazy potential investor, Derek (Simeon Willis), and further backing from deadbeat ‘producer’ Nathan (Lamont’s fellow ‘Twin’, Adam Rhys-Davies), Catherine agrees to work a talking dog into her film. Because talking dog films sell. After this initial “little compromise”, Egomaniac follows Catherine through almost a year of development hell while she struggles to write her script, becoming increasingly disillusioned, and reliant on booze, hand-outs from Mum and Dad, and outlandish advice from the people holding the (largely imaginary) purse strings.

Finally forced to sell out more than just her authorial integrity, Catherine’s fragile grasp on reality slips when the very people who have insisted on the changes to her film rubbish them, and try to oust her from her own project. Determined to finish at any cost, Catherine exacts a darkly comic revenge on everyone who’s wronged her.

Shenton’s film uses hyperbole and the absurd to explore very real issues. Catherine’s concept – already derivative and fairly mediocre-sounding – is hardly considered. She is merely a conduit, a writer for hire, or a tool of the industry. There is never really any question of her getting the funding she requires. Her ‘backer’ just wants to sleep with her, and her ‘producer’ is literally homeless, living out of his trash-strewn car. Her cast is comprised of call-centre workers, and even the cursed talking dog, Princess, is a sock-puppet in Sweeney’s imagination, symbolic of Catherine herself and her loss of agency.

egomaniac cast

There are some real sucker punches (although often delivered in a hilarious way) when Catherine is invited to a festival screening of her short, Gimp, only to find there are only two audience members, and when she tries to order a DVD of her own documentary, On Tender Hooks, only to be met with unhelpful disdain by a sniffy shop assistant. It’s worth noting that Shenton chose to use the actual titles of her own previous works to add a layer of Meta complexity and authenticity to proceedings. Even more uncomfortable are the scenes in which Catherine herself is repeatedly told she is not attractive enough to be marketable, and coerced into wearing fishnets and twerking a chainsaw for a photoshoot. While presented as a comedic sketch initially, this commodification of Sweeney’s persona and body takes a dark turn when she’s berated by several of her associates as stupid for shagging Derek the backer instead of “just sucking his dick”, thus losing any remaining leverage she may have had.

There are some poignant moments too. Completely miscast lead, Michael (Laurence R. Harvey) basically gives his blessing to Sweeney as she’s about to murder him because he’s been thinking about killing himself anyway. And Catherine’s host of forgotten or incomplete characters clamouring for a chance to be heard will strike a chord with anyone who’s ever tried to finish a novel or a screenplay.

Credit must go to the brilliant Nic Lamont for bringing warmth and likeability to Sweeney, and making us sympathetic to her plight. Inherently funny, and with an excellent sense of timing, she nails her (sometimes improvised) lines, especially in scenes with long-term comedy partner, Rhys-Davies. Special mention must also go to Loren O’Brien whose scene-stealing turn as the would-be leading actress is nothing short of fantastic.

Perhaps some of the scenes go on for a touch too long, as is often the way with improvised material, but Egomaniac is solid, funny, and on the nose. With themes reminiscent of Ben Woodiwiss’ Benny Loves Killing, Shenton’s film reminds us that when it comes to women in the creative industries – and especially in the field of horror – having your voice heard can be bloody murder.


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Katie Young
Katie Young – Author
Freelance Contributor

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