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.
Continue reading: Tower Block Review
This silly little comedy out of the UK offers a simple premise sent against a presumably scandalous backdrop: the world of fetish/S&M clubs. It's all fun and games until Johnny Law comes sniffing around, trying to figure out who's behind the clubs (which meet in secret) and how to prosecute them for, er, something. The government's priggishness seems to revolve around problems with shock treatment being practiced on the slave types. Solution: Hire a young "computer whiz" (in this film, that means a guy who knows how to use a chat room) to "infiltrate" the bondage world and gather evidence against them.
Continue reading: Preaching to the Perverted Review
Gay guys whining about their complicated sex lives may be wearing a bit thin as a staple for alternative romantic comedies, but "Bedrooms and Hallways" gives this retread genre a good, swift kick in the pants.
A light, soap-operatic satire of shifting sexual orientation from Rose Troche, the director of "Go Fish," this Brit import has been a buzz flick at Gay and Lesbian film festivals all year long for its steady supply of laughs, its exploration of sexual identity and its somewhat surprising last act.
Kevin McKidd ("Trainspotting") stars as Leo, a reserved, romantically frustrated 30-year-old whose surprise birthday party, which opens the film, quickly becomes an fusion of all the entanglements in his life.
Continue reading: Bedrooms & Hallways Review