"Donkey Punch" is half lurid and half just murky.

Half lurid and half just murky, “Donkey Punch” pushes the nasty-doings-aboard-a-private-yacht format handily employed by “Knife in the Water” and “Dead Calm,” among others, deep into turbulent sex-and-violence waters. Produced under the U.K. Film Council’s New Cinema Fund’s “low-budget feature film scheme,” this first feature from commercials and musicvid helmer Olly Blackburn shows the sort of edge in places that will be appreciated by horror fanboys of all ages, but is mostly too overwrought and over-the-top to cut it as a significant earner theatrically. At least in the U.S., the frequently incomprehensible dialogue and British slang earmark this for straight-to-DVD.

Setup couldn’t be simpler, as three tarts down from Leeds for some good times in Mallorca, Spain, are picked up by three young British blokes with weekend access to a luxury yacht. Finding a fourth fellow onboard and happily partaking of the quickly offered booze and drugs, two of the girls soon participate in an impromptu porn video with three of the guys in the master suite.

It’s quite a hot scene, well designed to warm the cockles. Unfortunately, it ends prematurely, not because of any sexual dysfunction, but because one of the men decides to commit the pernicious eponymous act — a punch to the neck of the woman a man is taking from behind that allegedly increases the thrill at the key moment — and ends up killing her.

Subsequent freakout by all hands and panicky balancing of moral and legal ramifications by the men results in a decision to dump the body overboard. Lots of nasty arguing in dark nighttime settings ensues, resulting in a dull dramatic midsection before a third act in which the body count mounts alarmingly.

The characters are virtually interchangeable, the violence grisly and the attitudes coarse. Blackburn and co-scripter David Bloom deliver the basic desired sex and gore, but the entire cruise is pretty unappetizing.

Although set in the Mediterranean, the pic was mostly shot off Cape Town, South Africa — water is water. At least at the screening caught, the sound mix made it tough to pick up much of the dialogue.

Donkey Punch

U.K.

Production

A U.K. Film Council, Film4 presentation, in association with Screen Yorkshire & EM Media, of a Warp X production. (International sales: Lumina Films, London.) Produced by Angus Lamont, Robin Gutch, Mark Herbert. Executive producers, Peter Carlton, Lizzie Francke, Hugo Heppell, Will Clarke. Directed by Olly Blackburn. Screenplay, Blackburn, David Bloom; original story, Bloom.

Crew

Camera (color), Nanu Segal; editor, Kate Evans; music, Francois-Eudes Chanfrault; music supervisor, Phil Canning; production designer, Delarey Wagener; line producer, Marlow De Mardt; assistant director, Barry Wasserman; casting, Des Hamilton. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (Park City at Midnight), Jan. 25, 2008. Running time: 89 MIN.

With

Robert Boulter, Sian Breckin, Tom Burke, Nichola Burley, Julian Morris, Jay Taylor, Jaime Winstone.

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