Thursday, 7 October 2010



A very British take on the home invasion genre, this is basically Them, Actually. Or Class War: The Motion Picture. Or Eden Lake II. Or Death Wish as directed by Michael Haneke. This is a film that showed at FrightFest and thank [insert deity or deities of choice] I was in the other screen watching something else. Because if I'd been in the main screen at the time, I'd almost certainly have been [1] massively annoyed and [2] sorely tempted to walk out. It's absolutely terrible. And it had funds from the UK Film Council, which frankly should close the debate on whether the UKFC should be preserved.

Respectable, well-off couple (married, though obviously not very happily) in respectable, middle-class Muswell Hill (the road name is Cherry Tree Lane although according to GoogleMaps it doesn't actually exist) are taken hostage by despicable yobs waiting to ambush the couple's teenage son as revenge for his alleged grassing. For about an hour - of a 74 minute film including credits - they're tied up and repeatedly sworn at; the wife is taken into another room and sexually assaulted (mercifully off screen, though that hardly makes it any more palatable); the toughs steal their bank cards, swear repeatedly, and invite round a couple of chavvie druggie slags and a schoolboy.

All to no great end. It's deliberately coldly done - long takes, little camera movement, minimal use of music - so it looks like Michael Haneke's Hidden/Cache, which just has a distancing effect so you really don't care about the victims. On the other hand, the antagonists are such charmless scum you just want them to die before they've so much as mocked the couple's DVD collection (all foreign, arthouse films and no pornography), and the ludicrous overuse of the C-word isn't big or clever, it's just boring. I know there's an argument that it's part of everyday life and it would probably feel false and forced if they didn't swear, but it passes the point of tiresome very quickly. After all, bowel movements are part of real life as well but that doesn't mean we should get them in the cinema.

So what's the point? Underclass dope dealers aren't very nice people compared to double-income North Londoners in detached houses, who watch subtitled films and call their son Sebastian? After all, we're not given any reason to dislike the victims, unless we're supposed to just not like rich, intelligent people, but we're not allowed to find any redeeming feature of the human garbage who invade them either. Frankly I'd be much more interested in a reversal movie, where articulate professionals took some druggie scum hostage on a sink estate.

And it isn't any fun. At least movies such as Death Weekend are supposed to be grindhouse entertainment, even if I don't actually find them at all enjoyable (some say The Last House On The Left is supposed to be entertaining but that's a film I have great difficulty with). I'm not even sure if we're supposed to enjoy the final acts of justice in a Last House style - where the middle class took revenge against the lower class. It certainly doesn't feel like it. Possibly one of the worst films of the year so far.


No comments: