Director: Ben Wheatley
Starring: Robert Hill, Robin Hill, Julia Deakin, David Schaal, Tony Way
Duration: 89 min.
After release from prison, Bill and his son Karl return home to Down Terrace. With the help of his wife Maggie, Bill tries to find the rat in his criminal operation, while Karl grows increasingly uncomfortable with his dysfunctional family.
Down Terrace is the debut feature film from British director Ben Wheatley. Named for the street in Brighton where the film is set, Down Terrace is an independent dark comedy about a very bizarre crime family.Stylistically this film is very similar to those of the so-called mumblecore movement. Filmed on a low budget, using a close-up hand held camera (with an in your face, almost claustrophobic vibe), naturalistic dialog and improvised banter (with thick accents and quiet whispers some of which are nearly unintelligible), and mostly non-professional actors (the cast consisting of many friends and family members).
There is very little exposition, and the movie seemingly starts in the middle of the story without any explanation given. Thrust into the lives of Bill and Karl as they casually celebrate their return home with a bunch of friends. This laid back atmosphere is a double edged sword, at first it is interesting to watch these odd characters interact, as little pieces of the story's underlying dark and sinister tone begin to reveal themselves through mundane yet often humorous conversation. But soon one starts to wonder if there is any plot at all.
Like a lot of British comedy, most of it is subtle and deadpan, but there are also some outright zany moments like when a hit-man can't find a babysitter, so he brings his young toddler along for a job. Once the violence starts, the bodies quickly start to pile up, and before long, the film spirals into a crazy Shakespearean finale. Not the most engaging crime thriller you will see, but achieves more than expected for its budget, enough to warrant a strong recommendation. It also has a very good soundtrack, with some great folk and blues tracks and some electronic music sprinkled in.