Burke and Hare

burke and hare poster

Sometimes the truth really is stranger than fiction. Occasionally, a story is so absurd there is simply no way someone could make it up. Take for example, a naked, pooping, masturbating home intruder. Or, as Burke and Hare chronicles, two men who decide the best way to make money is by killing people and providing the cadavers for scientific research. Is that creative or sociopathic? Who’s to say, but when the British take on dark humor, they can really nail it.



William Burke (Simon Pegg) and William Hare (Andy Serkis) are financially strapped and looking for ways to make a quick buck. When Dr. Knox (Tom Wilkinson) is barred from receiving cadavers for anatomical research by his competitor (Tim Curry), he turns to Burke and Hare. The pair must turn to “alternative” methods for procuring these bodies when grave robbing fails to provide fresh bodies. Bill Bailey, Jessica Hynes, and Isla Fisher round out the cast.

burke and hare 1

To say Burke and Hare is a special kind of humor would be an understatement. It’s 100% British, but with a slightly darker twist to it when considering the content of the jokes. The film begins with Bill Bailey as the hangman jovially describing the dreary setting in nineteenth century Edinburgh. The jokes cover oddball murders, prostitution, and unceremonious separations of limbs from their owners. It’s all in good fun and remains light throughout.

The surprise, personally, was the amazing rapport built by Pegg and Serkis. Yes, the preeminent man behind motion-capture acting as Gollum is able to act well in his own body. We all know Pegg’s comedic abilities; it’s great to see Serkis holding the audience’s attention on his own accord.

burke and hare 2

Similar to The Guard, Burke and Hare keeps the story flowing smoothly with perfectly timed humor. The film has an excellent balance of story development with silly humor. Oh, and did I mention it’s based on a true story. A fun movie indeed, despite the bleakness of the content. It also has a fantastic lesson on hubris* that should be heeded by all.

*Number 5 here

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