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Tony, Gerard Johnson s relentlessly gritty depiction of a solitary serial killer (Peter Ferdinando) whose attempts to socialize in various capacities always lead his would-be acquaintances to their grisly ends. With a quiet, utterly haunting pace, Johnson focuses on the unsettling nuances of the titular killer s isolated universe. A kind of Frownland for the torture porn set, it features beautiful imagery of Tony s urban surroundings, cleverly juxtaposed with the drab interiors of the grim apartment where he lives. Despite its basic plot, Tony feels less like a horror movie than a highly nuanced study of extreme social alienation, but the grim aura is nevertheless quite palpable. --Eric Kohn, IndieWIRE.com
Gerard Johnson's first feature, 'Tony', is quite excellent! A week in the life of a lonely psycho-killer with severe social problems and an unfashionable moustache, Tony is a darkly comic take on the horror/killer genre. Peter Ferdinando plays our eponymous anti-hero as a nervous and misunderstood loser, unemployable and on state funded job-seeker allowance for 20 years, but prone to sudden acts of extreme violence against anyone who might torment him. The film is shot extremely well (props to DP David Higgs) with contrasting scenes of Tony's claustrophobic, spartan council flat and oddly lush views of a very grim looking London, complete with drug addicts, street walkers, homeless people and a generally disenfranchised looking populace. Tony wanders the streets, really just looking for anyone to talk to or connect with. He visits a pub and is accused by a vicious thug of looking like a 'nonce' (paedophile to any non-Brits) and gets into a long running feud with the guy (played by TV's hardman Ricky Grover) which ends with a surprisingly touching redemption. He invites two crack addicts to his flat after following them to buy some drugs from their connection, a black pimp who quotes poetry in a posh English accent and then snaps back to a London wide-boy guise in a split second. Back at the flat the guys hurriedly take their toke and try to ignore Tony as they fall into a drug induced stupor, only for our man to have some fun in brutally attacking them as they enjoy their trip. Tony's violent ways aren't explained, there are no flashbacks or insinuations of an unhappy childhood, he's simply insane enough to have convinced himself that he's different, and it works perfectly. My favourite scene and one of the most chilling has Tony staring at himself in the bathroom mirror. He says, 'You're not a criminal, you're a soldier, you're gonna die like a soldier.' A brief pause indicates a shift in tone and he looks back at himself,'You're no soldier, you're a fly on a pile of sh*t.' He then lets out a guttural roar that even had the gigglers in the back row quieten down and sit-up. In short, Ferdinando is terrific in the role. Throughout the film a beautiful piano melody plays during exterior shots as Tony walks the streets and observes the filth that surrounds him, these parts of 'Tony' feel like a nightmare adapted for the screen by Johnson, as do the scenes where Tony painstakingly separates limbs from torsos to dispatch them in blue plastic bags in the Thames at night. The film is also hilariously funny though. It reminded me of the insane humour of American Psycho, when Tony wakes-up in bed next to a decaying corpse and offers it a good morning and a cup of tea. He quotes Rambo in 'First Blood' before a murder, shrugs his way through the world s most awkward job interview and picks-up a copy of Héctor Olivera's 'Cocaine Wars' at a charity shop (I am guilty of this too, which freaked me out no end!). He visits a gay bar a few times and seems to enjoy the attention he receives at first, but on taking a guy home he changes his mind and...well you know. For such an unpleasant and brutal journey in voyeurism and perversity, 'Tony' has a twisted sense of humour and a beating human heart at it's core that helps to seriously lift it above other recent films in the genre. For anyone who was left cold by Steven Sheil's Mum & Dad or is tired of the same old torture horror that's offered so liberally by the industry, Tony is something special and absolutely the real deal. --Quiet Earth
This expertly controlled debut feature from Gerard Johnson is the blackly comical and disturbing tale of Tony, a London serial killer. Having been voluntarily unemployed for two decades, Tony spends his days watching cheesy action films on VHS and unsuccessfully trying to connect with people, whether it be the pirate DVD seller or a bemused prostitute. And every now and then, he finds himself killing people. The grimness of east London life is omnipresent as our lead shuffles about in his miserly existence on the fringes of society. Tony is masterfully played by Peter Ferdinando, whose social awkwardness invokes frustration from those not able to understand him, and uncomfortable laughter from us. We know we are watching a film about a murderer, but so finely tuned is Ferdinando s performance, you end up both fascinated and repulsed by his actions, and, worryingly, rooting for him. Memorable scenes aren t the briefly gory ones, but a job interview forced upon him by a pitiless Job Centre employee, and the squirm-inducing encounters in both a brothel and a gay club which indicate Tony s asexuality. The nastiness in Johnson s film ironically doesn t come from the various methods of Tony s executions, but from the bleakness of the world around him. A coarse argument from a repulsive couple in a dingy pub is depressingly familiar to anyone who s found themselves in a tense situation, and the deadbeats who become the first victims are more heart-sinkingly repugnant than our dispatcher of lives. Brief moments of kindness enter Tony s life, hauntingly soundtracked by The The s Matt Johnson, and are gripping to watch as we get a handle on his psychosis. Not to say that this is Death Wish, but Tony s kills tend to have been provoked in some way as he is unable to read dodgy situations (although he is not actually threatened by any of his victims). However, this is in no way a exploitative slasher flick and the violence is more disturbing because Johnson is clever enough for it never to seem entirely senseless and graphic. The aftermath is macabrely handled in some deliciously horrific scenes Tony likes to keep some of the bodies for company and the rest are carefully butchered in his kitchen sink and disposed of matter-of-factly in the Thames. His proficiency in disposing of the bodies shows a long-term serial killing habit, but we only get to see a period of perhaps a week in his life. At only 73 minutes long, Tony is an enthralling study of a disturbed mind and is more a commentary on how people outside our social norms cope with a difficult city to exist in. Ferdinando is an astonishing find, always believable and sympathetic, and if you need any more proof, check out Johnson s short film Mug on the DVD. It will take a while to realise the hard-faced mugger is the same man we ve been feeling so much empathy for throughout Tony. --Becky Reed, Screen Geek
About the Actor
Lead actor Peter Ferdinando (Antonia Bird s Face, Titanic Town), who went through an extreme physical transformation to capture the essence of TONY, plays this alarming cinematic anti-hero with exceptional conviction. Externally, TONY is geeky and unhealthy, which ensures his moments of rage remain chilling and shocking.See all Editorial Reviews
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"Raw and powerful...one of the most realistic portraits of a killer ever put on screen"--twitchfilm.net
Tony (2009) is a 76 minute long English indie thriller about an unemployed, mentally disturbed, and timid Londoner. Tony lives in a small and impoverished flat all by himself. During the day he wonders through the streets or watches his VHS tapes (he is quite a moviephile). At night, Tony frequents local bars and nightclubs, he is especially taken with one gay club. Along the way he meets, unfriendly neighbors, drug addicts, and gays...who will become his victim(s)? Watch and find out.
If you like movies about serial killers, and you seen Vengeance is Mine (1979) and Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986) than you will most likely enjoy watching Tony in action.
I Like Horror Movies
"I read I honestly can't say enough good things about "Tony". It's a horror movie, a dark and twisted human drama, a character piece, an origin story for a seriously flawed superhero -- however you decide to market the picture, Gerard Johnson's fascinating story of an unstable man and his misguided quest to rid the city of crime is nothing short of fantastic. Peter Ferdinando's performance completes the package, and should garner the gifted actor some much-deserved attention. Even after several very hectic days, I still can't get the movie out of my head. Impressive."