Having achieved cult status via such TV shows as Garth Marenghi's Darkplace and The IT Crowd, writer/director Richard Ayoade scores a deadpan hit with his feature debut, Submarine (2010, Optimum, 15), an awkward black comedy about the traumas of coming of age that feels like Gregory's Girl's twisted sister.

Craig Roberts stars as Oliver Tate, the nasally narrating self-absorbed teenager who imagines his life as a movie packed with tracking zooms, helicopter shots and elaborately choreographed slo-mo, but also featuring the kind of "transcendent moments" that warrant the use of critical phrases such as "a monumental achievement" – apparently.

Having met his match in Jordana Bevan (Yasmin Paige), whose dark countenance is offset by the red coat she wears like the diminutive murderer of Don't Look Now, Oliver embarks on a relationship based on existential nihilism and casual pyromania. Yet his miserable happiness is threatened by the impending collapse of his parents' marriage, as his frustrated mum (Sally Hawkins) is tempted by a horrendous old flame (Paddy Considine), a terrifying vision of bad hair and even worse trousers who flogs cod mysticism from the back of a van that doubles as a seedy hand-job hideaway.

Dextrously adapted from Joe Dunthorne's novel, Submarine offers a rewardingly crooked vision of young love and death, its brittle humour remaining deliciously deadpan from start to finish. The cast are excellent, with particular plaudits going to Paige, who hits just the right balance between threat and friendship, and Hawkins who continues to prove herself one of our most versatile actresses. Great, too, to see Considine letting rip as the "mental health and wellbeing" guru who appears to have escaped from a Blake's 7 cast reunion party. Extensive extras include commentary track, test shoots, featurettes, Easter eggs and a "message" from executive producer Ben Stiller, whose name may or may not help the movie find an audience across the pond. Heaven only knows what our American friends will make of it.

The smartest thing about Neil Burger's Limitless (2011, Momentum, 15), a sci-fi-inflected thriller adapted from Alan Glynn's novel The Dark Fields, is the way it plays to Bradley Cooper's creepy charms. He is perfectly cast as the loser who develops superhuman mental skills after being slipped an experimental pill, thereby achieving overnight success in a world where sharp thinking and soft morals are the key to the express elevator.

Adopted by Robert De Niro's ruthless businessman, Cooper's antihero achieves great riches, but at what cost? It's fairly flimsy fare, but blessed with a palatable undercurrent of paranoia and executed with a slick flair that perfectly suits the narrative. De Niro may share top billing, but his appearances are fundamentally fleeting, with Cooper carrying the movie high on his beefcakey shoulders, his trademark slappable grin teetering enticingly on the brink of madness.

The main problem with Super (2010, G2, 18) is that it is condemned to lurk in the shadow of Kick-Ass, a stylishly superior offering that asks the same essentially anarchic question: "Why don't more people decide to dress up as superheroes?" This time, it's dorky Rainn Wilson who dons the avenging tights, having lost his wife to the kind of slimeball whom Kevin Bacon essays with such self-deprecating aplomb. While Kick-Ass's sole "superpower" was being ever-so-slightly impervious to pain, Wilson's "Crimson Bolt" is blessed with nothing more than a monkey wrench with which (he discovers) he can stove in evildoers' heads with ease. Things get complicated when Ellen Page's comic-store assistant demands entry to the wacko club as frenetic sidekick "Boltie" with inappropriately hellraising consequences.

Slither director James Gunn ladles on the gore, juggling knockabout comedy and violence to (deliberately?) uneven effect. There are times when it all comes together in surprising ways, but ultimately Super remains the poor cousin of Matthew Vaughn's serio-comic classic.

There's plenty of quasi-comedic bloodshed and offal on offer, too, in Hobo With a Shotgun (2011, Momentum, 18) the latest byproduct of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez's disappointing Grindhouse project. Like Machete, Jason Eisener's throwback genre-homage/pastiche began life as a faux trailer that then spawned a real feature, a process that is rarely creatively rewarding. Despite the nostalgic pleasures of watching Rutger Hauer chew up the scenery, the jack-ass jokes soon wear as thin as the one-line plot. Like those Troma stable movies (Surf Nazis Must Die, Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell etc), which were so much more fun to talk about than to watch, Hobo isn't anything like as disreputably entertaining as its title and poster suggest. Isn't it time we all put our adolescent slasher memories behind us and just moved on?

The selling-point conceit of Uruguayan chiller The Silent House (2010, Optimum, 15) is that it is filmed in "real time" in one continuous take, although, like Hitchcock's Rope, there are several evident edit points throughout the unfolding action. The question of whether such discreet cuts distract from one's enjoyment or admiration of Gustavo Hernández's film depends on the degree to which you are engrossed in the creepy action, which allegedly takes its inspiration from actual events in the 1940s. I have to say that I wasn't, although there's no doubt that this ambitious low-budget shocker puts such comparative US drivel as the inexplicably successful Paranormal Activity 2 in the shade. It makes no sense at all, but that only really matters if you haven't been in the least bit scared by this stripped-down frightfest.

Contributor

Mark Kermode

The GuardianTramp

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