TV Review: Stag, BBC2

I don’t really need to tell you much about comedy chiller Stag. The cast should be enough of a selling point. Jim Howick, Reece Shearsmith, Rufus Jones and Tim Key as well as Stephen Campbell Moore, James Cosmo and Pilou Asbaek. If you don’t know some of the names you’ll certainly know the faces.

And I don’t really want to tell you much about Stag either. The pleasure will come from watching it unfold. But here’s the basic plot. A group of lads go on a hunting stag weekend (in every sense) in the wilds of Scotland and find themselves in conflict with something. The elements? The locals? Each other? Something even more sinister?

Creator and director Jim Field Smith also worked on The Wrong Mans and this has a similarly genre-busting feel to it, mixing sheer WTF horror with laughs. It’s a difficult combination to get right. I guess Edgar Wright/Simon Pegg/Nick Frost’s Cornetto trilogy achieved it and American Werewolf in London achieved it and Reece Shearsmith (good as ever here, although it only feels like half a part in episode one) has achieved it in his TV work, but there really aren’t that many successful examples of this hybrid genre.

Like The Wrong Mans Stag has a distinctly filmic sensibility to it. Lovely landscapes. With two more episodes to come after this one it might have been too long for a movie. And in some ways the TV format works better because it means you can end the first two episodes with cliffhangers and viewers will have to wait another week to see what happens. Not me though. I’m going to cancel my plans and head over to the BBC press website to watch parts two and three right now.

Update - no longer on iPlayer but it is on Netflix. 

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