They watch over us but they hate their jobs

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British independent film The Bystanders is an off-the-wall, sci-fi comedy set in a parallel dimension – a world in which invisible immortals watch over their subjects and intervene in their lives, often not for the better.

Filled with mysterious moments, The Bystanders mixes surrealism with retro sci-fi and classic silent comedy set-pieces to create a wry satire on modern city life.


A London comedy of meddling manners, boozy nights, poltergeist pranking, workspace satire, and personal development. It is sweet, funny and schlumpily humane.

Sci Fi Now

A hit on the festival circuit, The Bystanders is a small scale triumph and will leave you feeling that you’ve had a good day.


British sci-fi comedy that channels the scrappy energy of a young, Spaced-era Edgar Wright with the ambition of Doctor Who.

Bloody Disgusting

A winning comedy of ill manners. Haran and Walsh have terrific comic chemistry together, and the supporting cast deliver fun performances. The Bystanders comes strongly recommended.



Pete (Scott Haran) was a runner-up in the UK Under-15s Chess Championship – to date, his biggest accomplishment in life. He has no friends, no girlfriend, no family, no one who will miss him if he vanishes. The exact reason he is chosen to be recruited as a Bystander.

Bystanders are like guardian angels: invisible immortals that have each been tasked with watching a human subject. But they don't have wings or halos, and they aren't very good at their jobs. Some use their powers to try to help their subjects, some to punish them, some just can't be bothered.

Pete's mentor, the cynical Frank (Seann Walsh), hates his subject, Luke (Andi Jashy), an unemployed stoner addicted to video games. Fresher Pete is assigned Sarah (Georgia Mabel Clarke), who works for uber-cool music label Smut Records. Pete discovers there’s a Bystander of the Year competition: maybe he can finally come first at something! The problem is that Sarah is far too easy a subject. Sensing an opportunity to ditch Luke, Frank challenges Pete to swap subjects. Within a week, Pete helps Luke get a job – and gets attention as a talented Bystander. For Frank the plan backfires: Sarah works in the music industry but her life is far from sex, drugs and rock and roll. In fact it’s mostly spreadsheets.

Frank wants to swap back but Pete refuses – he is finally standing up for himself. Frank feels betrayed and hatches a plot that turns into a deranged battle using their subjects like pieces in a mad game of human chess. Sarah ends up fired, Luke ends up in a police cell. The friends are estranged, and Frank is banished to the North Pole.

After wise words from Bill (Nick Helm), a Bystander Legend, Pete realises that he needs to get Frank back. So he challenges Bystander leader Richard (Chris Wright) to a game of chess.

The Bystanders Film