The Student
BBC Three’s New Horror Comedy: Stag
by Charles Nurick, 23/03/16

Oh dear; about half way through BBC Three’s Stag, I was ready to give up, call it awful and go make some stir fry.

But I did not and I am glad. The plot is pretty simple: Ian (played by Jim Howick) is belatedly invited to his soon to be brother-in-law’s stag-do in the Scottish Highlands. However, it is not the fun getaway he hoped for, due to the animosity he receives from the laddish group of school and work friends he has always been on the outside of. Oh, and the fact that people keep getting mysteriously killed.

In the beginning, Stag has the feel of a slightly naff, wannabe horror film, where the comedy has been thrown in as an afterthought.

The clichés of misty Scottish mountains, pouring rain, and an intimidating Scottish gamekeeper all make their routine appearances in an effort to set the scene.

Upon meeting the rest of the gang, few are likeable; although maybe this is because I empathised more with Ian who struggles to down a pint than the group of lads excited about hunting a stag.

It takes a while to get going but once they have left the pub and are then left to fend for themselves, it begins to heat up, partly thanks to the chemistry of the group and that they keep getting decapitated.

The horror is enough to make someone of a stable disposition twitch – or make someone like me cower under their duvet – but it is the gentle absurdity of it all that makes it work: a personal favourite moment was witnessing two men attempting to stuff a pair of legs into a backpack.

The show feels like a cross between Shaun of the Dead and Lost: such is the premise of a group running from an unidentifiable evil and the humour where it is perfectly acceptable to be more concerned about an unopened bottle of Shiraz than the fact that one of your best mates no longer has a torso.

Ultimately Stag does not take itself too seriously and neither should you. Once you have accepted that this will not be ground-breaking television, it becomes very easy to sit back and enjoy the adventure, wondering what the hell is going on.

Image: Smudge 9000