Gritty and claustrophobic, this British horror-thriller holds our interest with well-played characters rather than the wobbly plotting. It's a clever idea for low-budget suspense, because it essentially has just one set. And the premise is unnerving even if we instantly realise its implausibility. Still, once everything is set in motion, the story has no where to go, trapped like the characters themselves on the top floor of a condemned London apartment building.
Aside from the residents of the top floor of this block, everyone else has already been relocated. And after a violent murder in the corridor, these people are ready to get out too. Then one morning sniper fire starts picking them off one by one through the windows. Their phones and internet are down, every way out is blocked, and they have to work out a plan of action. Intriguingly, it's a young woman, Becky (Smith), who rises as the group's leader, tenaciously refusing to give up. Other residents include a local thug (O'Connell), a depressed alcoholic (Tovey), a couple of pensioners (Brown and Baker), a tense mum (Graham) and her teen son (McEntire), and two drug dealers (Elouhabi and Robinson).
As we begin to understand what's happening, there are some massive lapses in logic that continually niggle. The sniper is shooting from one side of the building, so presumably the flats on the other side are safe and undisturbed, and yet everyone remains huddled in the hallway. The building's front door is blocked, but they ignore the fire exit. And how exactly do you block a mobile phone signal at the top of a tall tower in a massive city? Fortunately, the actors make us believe that they aren't worried by these gaping plot holes. Smith is especially good as the feisty Becky, a refreshingly complex female hero who doesn't have to be rescued by the boys. O'Connell adds a few layers to his annoying character, and Tovey is as likeable as ever.
And since each person has a simple but intriguing back-story, we are genuinely horrified when they're killed off. Yes, the filmmakers aren't afraid to get very nasty from time to time, as it seems like no one is safe from this mysterious sniper's aim. And the relentlessly grim production design helps build the mood too. It's just a shame they didn't spend a bit more time making sure the script held water.
Run time: 90 mins
In Theaters: Friday 21st September 2012
Distributed by: Shout! Factory
Production compaines: Creativity Media
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 50%
Fresh: 8 Rotten: 8
IMDB: 5.9 / 10
Director: James Nunn, Ronnie Thompson
Producer: James Harris, Mark Lane, Ronnie Thompson
Starring: Sheridan Smith as Becky, Jack O'Connell as Kurtis, Julie Graham as Carol, Ralph Brown as Neville, Jill Baker as Violet, Loui Batley as Amy, Steven Cree as DC Devlin, Nabil Elouahabi as Gary, Christopher Fulford as Kevin, Tony Jayawardena as Eddie, Jamie Thomas King as Ryan, Ralph Laurila as Jimmy, Michael Legge as Jeff, Montserrat Lombard as Jenny, Jordan Long as Ormond, Harry McEntire as Daniel, Kane Robinson as Mark, James Weber Brown as Brian, Russell Tovey as Paul
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