Down Terrace (Ben Wheatley, 2009): U.K.

Reviewed by Byron Potau. Viewed at the Regal Cinemas in Los Angeles as part of the 2010 Los Angeles Film Festival.

Down Terrace

In Ben Wheatley’s low budget film, Down Terrace, about a family of small time hoods, he achieves an amusing black comedy that plays like an English, shoe string budgeted Reservoir Dogs without the flashbacks and jumbled timeline.

Father, Bill (Robert Hall), and son, Karl (Robin Hall), have just been released from prison. After some minor welcoming back they set their minds to figuring out who may have ratted them out. This leads the duo and their wife/mom, Maggie (Julia Deakin), on a darkly funny killing spree that threatens to spiral out of control. Karl’s ex-girlfriend, Valda (Kerry Peacock), shows up pregnant to complicate matters.

Well scripted and paced with good performances from the entire cast, especially Julia Deakin’s wonderfully deadpan perfromance, this film is a pleasant surprise. Just when you think it is getting tedious or taking itself too seriously it makes you laugh. Its humor is often dark however, and some may be reluctant to allow themselves the pleasure of a good laugh in the face of absurd violence, but rest assured that is exactly what you’re intended to do.

Director Wheatley creates a tightly framed, claustrophobic atmosphere which can be a bit nauseating at times. You wish he would back his camera off a bit just to let you breathe a little. Filmed in eight days, it certainly won’t impress you with its technical aspects, but its well timed comedy will make it difficult to leave the theater without a bit of a smile on your face.

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