When university student Salah returns home to Bournemouth and finds both his father and the old man’s kebab shop in equal ill health, he decides to stick around to help out. The drunken excesses of out-of-town revellers that turn the city into a hedonistic war zone every night, lead to an altercation Salah’s father doesn’t survive, and soon afterwards he discovers a creative solution to solve the shop’s dwindling meat supplies, while taking some form of vengeance on the partyers, all of whom he holds responsible for his father’s death.
Reminiscent of Danish black comedy Green Butchers or an updated variation on Sweeny Todd, the concept of K-Shop is an inventive and somewhat nauseating one, and if watching it doesn’t make you hungry, it will probably make you vegetarian. However, it has difficulty expanding an intriguing start into a full-length plot, and to flesh out the story it incorporates a sort-of rivalry between Salah and an ex-Big Brother victor-turned-nightclub entrepreneur, who is thus both representative and symptomatic of the culture of classless hedonism he endures on a nightly basis, but their interactions are sporadic and don’t add up to much in the way of a cohesive narrative.
As time wears on for Salah the very essence of who he is becomes gradually eroded, each kill dragging him ever closer to the unthinking abandonment of basic human decency that he decries in the drunken revellers, ultimately threatening to turn him into the very thing he despises. Some human perspective comes in the form of hotel owner Sarah, pointing out that while the local business owners might perceive the partygoers with contempt, they’re still perfectly happy to make money off their insatiable appetites for excess. It’s rather telling that the periodic street shots of drinking, singing, dancing, threatening, fighting, vomiting and shagging were achieved by a mix of staged footage and the crew just walking out into Bournemouth on a weekend night with a camera and pointing it in any direction.
In contrast to the frenetic chaos assaulting the city streets, is the quiet calm of the beach at dawn where Salah goes to dispose of the unusable parts of his kills, juxtaposing the peaceful serenity of the rolling tide with the thought of the squelching human viscera restrained within the plastic binbags set out to sea. Likewise, the external night action is finished off by early morning shots of the street cleaners removing all trace of the concluded chaos, returning the town to a state of order, while also preparing it for when the riot begins anew.
K-Shop is almost like a zombie movie, the drunks acting as mindless, slavering, monosyllabic, shambling wrecks, whose ability to interact with society has long since worn and whose only instinct is to make others into one of them. Regardless of how intentional the parallel is, the film doesn’t actually judge people for their behaviour, but that’s not to say it doesn’t take gleeful relish in acting out precisely the kind of thing that many of us have thought about, whether we’re willing to admit it or not.
K-SHOP / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: DAN PRINGLE / STARRING: ZIAD ABAZA, SCOT WILLIAMS, DARREN MORFITT, REECE NOI, KRISTIN ATHERTON / RELEASE DATE: 22ND JULY