A throwback mystery that plays like an Alfred Hitchcock medley, "Candlestick" effectively demonstrates the fine line between homage and parody.
The second feature by British filmmaker Christopher Presswell centers on the conniving Jack (Andrew Fitch), who orchestrates a social event in his fashionable flat designed to shine the spotlight on his best friend's adulterous wife (Isla Ure). The unsavory maneuver turns out to be merely the opening act of a far more nefarious scheme involving the perpetration of the perfect crime.
"Candlestick" is blatant in its affections: the copycat "Psycho" establishing shots, the Jonathan Armandary score that's so evocative of Hitchcock composer Bernard Herrmann, a single-setting gathering of guests echoing Hitch's 1948 chamber drama "Rope," and a twist ending that would have been right at home on a vintage episode of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents."
Unfortunately, Presswell's direction and his writing (with Andras Forgacs W.) simply aren't up to the task at hand.
Despite Presswell's evident enthusiasm, the tediously talky, dramatically stilted results offer conclusive evidence that mastering suspense requires artistic skill beyond sampling the Master of Suspense.
MPAA rating: None.
Running time: 1 hour, 23 minutes.
Playing: Arena Cinema, Hollywood.