If Michael Myers were a middle-aged British man in a tight-fitting polo shirt, he’d be the titular ‘Bull’ of Paul Andrew Williams’ gritty revenge thriller. Left for dead by his crimelord boss and father-in-law, Bull (Neil Maskell) returns to his old stomping grounds in search of revenge on his traitorous family, and reunion with his now-estranged son.
Straddling the boundary between gangster movie and slasher film, Bull treads (or stomps) a similar path to that of Dead Man’s Shoes and Kill List – borrowing homegrown revenge from the former, and an incendiary Neil Maskell performance form the latter. Don’t let the very British back garden barbeques, grotty caravans or slightly shit fun fair fool you – Williams is an expert at infusing kitchen sink drama with scenes of intense horror. In Bull, we have some of the director’s nastiest scenes of violence to date. Brutalised extremities and creative duct tape work have always been a running theme in Williams’ films, and Bull elevates both to another level of nastiness.
Bull’s extreme methods may prove too much for swathes of the audience to get behind – and, as the monstrous meathead, Maskell delivers yet another truly unsettling performance. Beyond the big man, an admirable bunch of lowlifes have been assembled, including David Hayman as Bull’s father-in-law and boss, and Lois Brabin as his drug-addled wife. Ex-soapsters Tamzin Outhwaite and Kellie Shirley impress in smaller roles, fleshing out Bull’s world of ghastly in-laws and grubby garden parties.
After a ten-plus year absence from feature filmmaking, Paul Andrew Williams returns with his most ferocious work yet. As a revenger’s tragedy, its trajectory is a familiar one, but its stomach-churning violence and terrifying central figure stand out from the rest.
Second Sight’s limited edition Blu-ray is packed with great bonus features and beautiful deluxe packaging making it a worthy addition to the shelves.