Burke and Hare

2011

Burke and Hare

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.

32%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 57

35%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 15,119
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Movie Info

From John Landis, the director of Animal House and The Blues Brothers, Burke & Hare is adark comedy/thriller staring Simon Pegg, Andy Serkis, Tom Wilkinson, Tim Curry and Isla Fisher as the unfortunate denizens of 19th century Edinburgh, a setting rife with murder, theft, prostitution, corpse snatching, experimental medicine, and of course Shakespeare. -- (C) IFC Films

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Cast

Simon Pegg
as William Burke
Andy Serkis
as William Hare
Tom Wilkinson
as Doctor Knox
Ronnie Corbett
as Captain Tam McLintoch
Tim Curry
as Doctor Monroe
Michael Smiley
as Patterson
Reece Shearsmith
as Sergeant Mackenzie
Bill Bailey
as Hangman
Allan Corduner
as Nicephore
Alan Corduner
as Nicephone
Hugh Bonneville
as Lord Harrington
Christopher Lee
as Old Joseph
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Critic Reviews for Burke and Hare

All Critics (57) | Top Critics (15)

  • Rarely has the ratio of quality talent to dismal returns been as high as in "Burke & Hare,'' a macabre British period piece that's nowhere near as funny as it thinks.

    Dec 1, 2011 | Rating: 1.5/4 | Full Review…

    Ty Burr

    Boston Globe
    Top Critic
  • "Burke and Hare" is a waste of a good cast and a better story, as well as a hollow reminder of how John Landis seemingly has lost his touch.

    Oct 27, 2011 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • A droll take on one of the most notorious mass-murder cases of the 19th century.

    Sep 9, 2011 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • It's just scene after scene of two obnoxious people killing various other obnoxious people.

    Sep 9, 2011 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
  • All of the actors are enjoying themselves, and the movie is stuffed with history, atmosphere and vivid characters. What's in short supply, though, is laughter.

    Sep 9, 2011 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
  • To call it a black comedy is probably misleading: It's grey at best, and apart from a few scattered chuckles, it dies as quickly and gracelessly as Burke and Hare's victims.

    Sep 8, 2011 | Rating: 3.5/10 | Full Review…

    Ian Buckwalter

    NPR
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Burke and Hare

  • Jun 11, 2015
    I didn't really get a sense, one way or the other, that this film really built to much. I found that I Sell the Dead, a film with, maybe, one-tenth the budget and only half of this film's talented cast, was considerably better than this. Of course, that makes it sound like I Sell the Dead didn't have a good cast, Dominic Monaghan, Larry Fessenden and Ron Perlman are talented actors. It's just that this film is simply far more stacked because of, you guessed it, its budget. Yet, with all of its money and its technical 'wizardry', when compared to I Sell the Dead, whose budget is very obvious from looking at it, it simply lacks what I Sell...had and that is a solid script for the cast to work with. Perhaps this is my fault, as I watched the film in two sittings, two days apart, I believe, and part of me just really couldn't get into the film. The cast is certainly good, and there's some funny stuff, mostly from the police captain and his two deputies. I was actually kind of surprised by how funny these three were. It's not like they were subtle in that dry way that the British tend to do, and it's not like it's even great comedy, but it did make me laugh at how silly these three could be at any given time. It's a movie that, as far as I can tell, went up and down in relation to its consistency and its tonal issues. Perhaps more the former than the later, as this was more inconsistent than it being all over the place in terms of tone. Two sides of the same coin, I suppose. It's just that the film really isn't that funny, despite really trying very hard. It's just like everything, really. If you try enough then there will be some that hit and some that miss. Unfortunately, in this case, they're more misses than hits. The difference between the two may not be that much, but it's still leaning more towards miss. The film is certainly fine to look at, it captures the time and era fairly well. The best part, as should be obvious, is the cast. It's clear that they were having a good time, even if the script didn't match their enthusiasm. I found to be, at the very least, a watchable enough film, with enough liveliness, ironic considering the subject matter, from the cast to make it so that I didn't feel like I wasted my time watching it. I don't think it's good, but it was fine enough to sit through. The fact that it's less than 90 minutes long definitely helps. I will never watch it again, and likely forget it in a week, but this is a slightly below average film. It may look cheaper but I would recommend watching I Sell the Dead instead. It's so much better than this.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Apr 02, 2013
    In 1828 Edinburgh, Doctor Monro(Tim Curry) has arranged to have all legally deceased bodies sent to his medical school via a new city statute. That leaves Doctor Robert Knox(Tom Wilkinson) out in the cold until William Burke(Simon Pegg) and William Hare(Andy Serkis), a couple of would-be-entrepreneurs by way of Ireland, show up with a body of their own, with a promise of more to come via same day delivery. But grave robbing is not as easy it sounds, what with the militia patrolling the cemeteries. So, they have to take more extreme methods. In the meantime Hare ignores his addict wife Lucky(Jessica Hynes) while Burke pays closer attention to Ginny Hawkins(Isla Fisher), a young actress. With his first feature film in over ten years, the darkly funny "Burke and Hare," John Landis shows none of the expected signs of rust in the director's chair. Even the sillier bits work, as the movie downplays the gore. The all-female Macbeth also has its place here as the Scottish play parallels the movie's plot. As far as the future goes, the details are not as anachronistic as one would originally think, especially photography, which all goes towards the movie's stated themes of progress and its occasional high cost, well-expressed in a commanding speech. But(and you know this was coming) in trying to understand the motives behind the infamous grave robbers and perhaps show them to be more than one dimensional monsters, the movie goes too far by making them even sympathetic. A good deal of that has to do with the casting of the reliably likable Simon Pegg, who shares excellent chemistry with Andy Serkis, as one of the leads.(Though to be honest, Pegg did play a bad guy in the Doctor Who episode "The Long Game.") In any case, I am sure there are better ways to show how some people do not get what they deserve.
    Walter M Super Reviewer
  • Mar 24, 2012
    Yes, there is a fair bit of comedy thrown into the mix along with some prestigious actors and actresses, for a grim-ish yet relaxing saturday afternoon flick.
    Scott G Super Reviewer
  • Mar 15, 2012
    [img]http://images.rottentomatoes.com/images/user/icons/icon13.gif[/img] It's supposedly a horror comedy according to the marketing strategy it used. Question is was it scary? No. Was it funny? Sometimes. The fact is it's been panned since release but it's not an entirely bad movie. John Landis who brought us An American Werwolf in London; a hilarious and original horror comedy has the perfect cast at his disposal. But they were far too restrained by the flimsy script to make full use of their comedic talent. When you have Simon Pegg, Andy Serkis and Ronnie Corbet you have to provide them with the best material and often this film doesn't deliver. There's a lot worse out there, it isn't Shaun of the Dead but Burke and Hare gives off frequent chuckles and a couple good laughs but not enough ultimately to sustain it's running time. It's fair at best.
    Directors C Super Reviewer

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