Twitter Plot Summary: After their tower block is scheduled for demolition, the remaining residents are targeted by a sniper. Naturally.
Director: James Nunn and Ronnie Thompson
Key Cast: Sheridan Smith, Jamie Thomas King, Jack O’Connell, Ralph Brown, Russell Tovey, Julie Graham, Christopher Fulford, Nabil Elouahabi, Steven Cree, Montserrat Lombard.
Five Point Summary:
1. Small woman VS big men in a fist fight? Not going to end well.
2. How old is her phone?!
3. Now that, my friends, is how to pull the rug out from under your audience.
4. Wilhelm scream? Really?
5. Hmm, so-so ending, but there wasn’t really anywhere else for it to go.
Tower blocks are, in this day and age, often considered an eyesore, yet designed to squeeze in a large number of people into a small space. It’s little wonder that the Judge Dredd comic series (as featured in 2000AD) features massive blocks to hold its residents, and they’re jolly unpleasant places to live. In this case it’s unpleasant because it’s a hotbed for crime and violence, carrying a similar vibe to Attack The Block released the year before, although this time it’s an altogether more human menace that afflicts the tower block residents in this script from James Moran (Severance, Cockneys VS Zombies).
So we’ve established that tower blocks aren’t a very pleasant place to be. One such tower block is scheduled for demolition, yet the last few residents – all situated on the top floor, conveniently – refuse to move out. A kid is beaten to death within the block, yet none of the residents step forward to either prevent it from happening or help the police with their enquiries. A few months pass and we meet those still living there, a cross section of society crammed into a small corridor. The happily married couple, the single young man, a chav/hoodie thug and his lackeys, the single young woman, the young couple, and the young parent who is offensive to everyone she meets and doesn’t look after her kids. They pay protection money to the resident hoodie but that all goes to pot when a sniper targets their flats and starts picking them off. As they try and work out how to escape, they find pictures and graffiti of three faces littered around the building. A mystery, perhaps? A number of coincidences (or are they?!) prevent the group from just walking out the back or, you know, any of the other numerous escape routes available to them. It also feels a little convenient that all of their flats are on the same side of the building, making them perfect targets for Mr Sniper. Aside from this little issue, the claret soon starts flowing (not wine, although one character does have some rosé on standby) and it becomes a moot point. Thankfully we have a devoted video game player amongst the group who ascertains that the sniper is likely using top grade military hardware. So effectively, they’re all doomed.
Lit in dingy greys and browns, the tower block is a character in itself. It helps that the film is shot in a similarly dingy manner, a sepia tinge no doubt intended to create a gritty feel. To be fair it’s gritty enough as it is, but the filters enhance it considerably. The soundtrack too, whilst not enhancing the grittiness, for me evoked the same feelings as a John Carpenter or Ennio Morricone soundtrack mixed with, as odd as it sounds, the surreal sketch show Jam by Chris Morris. Performances from everybody involved are solid, from the more well known names of Sheridan Smith, Russell Tovey and Ralph Brown to the likes of Jack O’Connell, who is excellent as chavtastic guy you love to hate Kurtis. The cast are primarily known for their TV work (ignoring Ralph Brown, who for me will always be Del Preston in Waynes World 2), which helps ground it in reality somewhat – throwing in big name actors would be detrimental to the film and the story, the two just wouldn’t mix. It’s perfectly fine as it stands.
For what it is, I enjoyed it. The characters are well defined and despite the necessity to have people bumped off at regular intervals, the story works in spite of its limited setting. You also have to suspend your disbelief for a little towards the end as well, as it all ties up a little too conveniently. Other than that, it’s still an impressive piece of work. As far as the UK film industry goes there’s life in the old dog yet. In fact, rumours of its demise have been greatly exaggerated. There’s plenty of solid home grown films out there, you just have to know where to look. When it comes to “low budget” fare such as this, we’re more than capable of holding our own against big budget blockbusters, and that’s something to be proud about.
Favourite scene: The first sniper shot. Fantastic.
Silly Moment: Deciding to climb down from the roof. Then the Wilhelm scream happens. Unnecessary.