out of Five
Running time: 70
Patchy compilation of short films whose heart is undeniably in the right place – it's just a shame that the films themselves are a bit of a let-down.
What's it all about?
Executive produced by Justin Edgar (who made the enjoyable comedy Special People), The Magic Hour is a compilation of five disability-themed short films made by a group of disabled British directors.
The films include: Paraphernalia, directed by John Williams, about a young boy (Elijah Muhammad) discovering what his annoyingly rubbish, ever-present robot is actually for; William Mager's Hands Solo, a mockumentary about a deaf porn star (Matt Kirby) who's very good with his hands; Andrew Gibb's Buttermouth, a stop motion animation about a girl and her blind mother; The Hunger House, a collaborative effort by The Void Mediabox Group, about two disabled friends (Jason Maza and David Proud) in WWII who get processed into the Nazi death machine; and disability activist-slash-artist Katherine Arianello's Follow Me On My Journey To Die, a black comedy about a disabled artist (Arianello), whose suicide-themed work attracts the cultish devotion of a trio of beautiful fashion models (Jenna Harrison, Claire Amias and India Wadsworth).
Unsurprisingly, some of the films are better than others, with Paraphernalia proabably the stand-out, due to an engaging performance by young Elijah Muhammad, some terrific animation effects on his rubbish robot friend and a neat twist at the end.
Unfortunately, the other films are patchy at best. Hands Solo has a likeable lead and some good ideas but doesn't do anything interesting or funny with them, Buttermouth and The Hunger House both fall into the worthy-but-dull category and Follow Me On My Journey To Die never quite strikes the right note, despite the best efforts of the cast.
Taken as a whole, then, despite its pleasingly short running time, the film is ultimately disappointing. It also commits the schoolboy error of putting its best film first, although it's fair to say that the twist would be more easily guessable if Paraphernalia was the final film.
There's no doubting the worthiness of the project in general but the majority of the shorts are sadly disappointing, so it's more like The Magic Ten Minutes than The Magic Hour.