Six armed gangsters are holed up at their safe house in the country. A sprawling, decaying place but out of the sight of the law. One is lay dying with a gunshot wound to the gut, the others have discussions about who might be the rat who tipped off the cops. No, this is not a UK version of Reservoir Dogs, despite the similar beats, this is a different beast.
As the night draws in the tension between the group rises. They are a motley bunch. Carpenter (Finbar Lynch) is the ring leader and tough as a nut. Barker (Struan Rodger) is the wise old hand who dispenses knowledge in guff, hushed tones. Stoker (Kirk Lake), the quietest of the group, runs a club for the crime boss and wants to use his cut to get his own. HP (Simon Rhodes) is the thug bleeding out upstairs. Eddie Poe (Alexander Wells) is a new kid, the son of old hand but unsure about the life he’s been thrust into – he also is the only one who killed a policeman during their raid. Loudest and most reckless of the crew is Gordon (Johann Myers), a former boxer who as the night goes on becomes a coke-fuelled psycho. No prizes for guessing the connection between the characters’ names.
The house, however, has a life of its own, with their regretted kills appearing to each of the gangsters. It’s less of a boo-scare ghost story, more a haunted character study.
The atmosphere is bolstered by a stunning score from French outfit The Limiñanas (Russian Doll), which adds considerably to aesthetic the house brings. It’s shot and lit perfectly by Laurens Scott, someone more used to working on small-screen reality fodder. Co-directors Matthew Benjamin Jones and Luke Skinner work wonders, getting the pensive, volatile elements to sit together effortlessly. The screenplay – by Jones and actor Kirk Lake – focuses on character rather than horror and in doing so creates an utterly engaging old-school chiller. It would work as play, but at no point does this feel stagy. It’s films like this that give you hope for the British film industry.