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.
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The craziness starts when a construction crew opens a 500-year-old plague pit, unleashing flesh-chomping zombies. Oblivious to this, brothers Terry and Andy (Hardiker and Treadaway) are planning to rob a bank to get the cash to save their grandfather's nursing home, which is under threat from a property developer. Their team includes a safecracker (Ryan), a gun nut (Thomas) and a loyal idiot (Doolan), but their badly planned heist is derailed when they run into the undead. Now their goal is to rescue Granddad (Ford) and his pals (including Blackman, Briers and Sutton).
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The film is helped admirably by the two slutty waitresses -- admirably played by Marisa Ryan and Amy Hathaway -- two girls who clearly hate each other only slightly less than they hate their own lives. The rest of the film is a bit forgettable -- a bunch of tired jokes about condoms and froufrou drinks, but at least it's not a total loss. Here's to hoping Ryan and Hathaway move on to brighter things!
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