‘Acid’ Takes Three Virulent, Entertaining Trips

Share via

This month’s issue of an insistently hip downtown New York publication includes a story on Scots novelist Irvine Welsh, suggesting that after the success of “Trainspotting” he had a decision to make: Embrace popular culture, or make his work more hard-core.

All you can say is: Hello?

What else--after the junkies, baby death and general squalor of “Trainspotting”--was Welsh going to do? Do a punk version of “Mary Poppins”? Naturally, he had to step it up. It’s not an artistic decision--well, it could be. But it’s certainly good business as well.

The most recent result of this “maverick” move by author-screenwriter Welsh is “The Acid House,” a virulent but thoroughly entertaining trilogy of tales about the besieged lower classes of Edinburgh, ripe with vulgarity, self-loathing, violence and economic disorder. Subtitled--mercifully--in English, its frankness is alarming, its stories are brutal, its humor is purely from the gallows.


The first story, “The Granton Star Cause,” examines the sundry woes of Boab (Stephen McCole), who, on the same day he’s kicked off the Granton Star football team, fired from his job, ditched by his girlfriend for sexual incompetence and asked by his parents to move out, meets God (Maurice Roeves). In a bar. “You’re just like me,” the disgusted deity tells him. “A dirty, lazy, slovenly [expletive].” He turns into a fly, by which Boab gets his revenge on the world.

The second, “A Soft Touch,” has as its title character Johnny (Kevin McKidd), who marries a woman of questionable character, raises their baby single-handedly (well, maybe it’s theirs), gets beaten up by the wife (Michelle Gomez) and her boyfriend (Gary McCormack) and by the end of the story hasn’t learned a thing at all.

The third is “The Acid House,” which proves that while LSD might not have enlightened the masses, it gave filmmakers an excuse to ham it up. Summoning up all the technique of his music video days (he’s done work for Britain’s Channel 4), debuting feature director Paul McGuigan tells the story of Coco Bryce (Ewen Bremner of “Trainspotting”), who during a particularly harrowing acid trip switches brains with a newborn baby--a grotesque little tyke who finds joys in breast-feeding most infants have never known. Meanwhile, the adult-size Coco, now with a baby brain, lolls about a hospital, as his girlfriend (Arlene Cockburn) still tries to rope him into marriage.

“The Acid House” is easily the funniest of the three stories, probably the sickest and, despite what they write in certain magazine articles, the wisest career choice in the bunch.

* Unrated. Times guidelines: Vulgar, violent and warped, “Acid House” starts where “Trainspotting” left off: Be warned.

‘The Acid House’

Stephen McCole: Boab

Maurice Roeves: God

Ewen Bremner: Coco Bryce

Kevin McKidd: Johnny

A Zeitgeist Films release of a production of Picture Palace North & Umbrella Productions, made with support of Channel 4 in association with Yorkshire Media Production Agency, Scottish Arts Council National Lottery Fund and Glasgow Film Fund. Director Paul McGuigan. Producers David Muir, Alex Usborne. Screenplay by Irvine Welsh. Cinematographer Alasdair Walker. Editor Andrew Hulme. Running time: 1 hour, 52 minutes.


Exclusively at the Nuart, 11272 Santa Monica Blvd., West Los Angeles, (310) 478-6379. The film is unrated by the MPAA but the Nuart will admit adults only to this film.