So this week I decided to watch Down Terrace, a gritty British drama directed by Ben Wheatley. Wheatley was the director of, the sublime, Kill List which came out last year and instantly became a favourite of mine so I was drawn to watch some more of his work. Down Terrace is set within Brighton and follows a family, who don’t appear to have been given a surname, that are in some way involved in some really dodgy business, my guess was that they’re in the drug trade but nothing was ever confirmed in the script. As the film goes on the family learn that someone has tipped off the police about their business and they start killing anyone who knows anything building up to a furious showdown at the end with a very big twist.
The film is incredibly effective, there are many similarities to the aforementioned Kill List, but there are also differences that set the two apart. For example, Down Terrace’s moment of extreme violence are a lot more sparse than those in Kill List and for this particular film it adds even more of a sense of mystery surrounding its main characters, these moments of violence are handled with expert skill in a film that, clearly doesn’t have the biggest of budgets. The actors all do a fantastic job, most of whom I didn’t recognise expect the Irish guy from Kill List, who plays Pringle, and the mother of the family Julia Deakin who I know well from Spaced, but the lack of known actors brings so much more to film’s integrity. It’s not especially uplifting stuff but it’s so well written and cleverly plotted giving you slices of information only when absolutely necessary and hinting at a huge back story that you’re left figuring out on your own. This makes the movie much more thought provoking and makes it seem so much more like real life. This is a much more realistic vision of life in a crime family, it feels like it really does capture a feeling that this could well be a true story.
I’ve now been blown away completely by both of Wheatley’s features as he seems to capture dark, gritty crime stories with flashes of hyper violence and does so with intricate skill. Roll on his third feature, due next year, A Field in England, this guy is definitely one to watch in future.