Down Terrace (2009)

down terrace robin hill

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A taut drama that’s as equally raw as it is brutal. Coming from the imaginative mind of my newest all time favourite directors, Ben Wheatley, who had a number of equally cold and calculating bizarre thrillers under his belt now.

The Brighton family have recently hit a small hiccup in their operations, it seems the crime enriched clan have an informant amongst them, the news is out to the crims above them from London and they are cautioned to find out who this individual is, and the film become a very unusual blood bath. On top of all of these problems Karl’s ex girlfriend, Valda turns up pregnant, the new addition to this alka seltzer popping bunch of sociopaths isn’t as welcome in times where no one can be trusted.

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Pulsating with ample amounts of folk/guitar music from both sides of the pond, the mellow tones of sweet singing and strumming is a stark contrast to the harsh and bitter conversations that get spat around the home from all the family and associates. Coming across as the “typical” British family from the over packed shelves and scratched walls, to the quaint “had these since our wedding day” dinner plates., but murder and drugs are second nature here. The father Bill (Robert Hill) is a true new age hippy and his character is spot on, he comes across convincingly as one of those crusties who’d be into the DMT trails of south america, his pathetic son Karl (Robin Hill) who is his actual son, is a whiny medication idiot who’s often confused and crying for his mother but who is also extremely calculating and has a mean temper. The glue of the family is the mother Maggie (Julia Deakin) who has a constant headache and is ready for valium and vodka breakfast. Surrounding these misfits are a pantheon of double dealers, cut throats and villains, including the brilliant psycho daddy Pringle (Michael Smilie).

There are no stereotypes here, everyone is bound to do something very shocking, and there is no comfort zone to slip into. At times the sheer coldness makes things very awkward, but also very real, for me there is a nostalgia here, the parental embarrassments in front of partners (when you really just can’t be dealing with this shit) although not as violent or vicious, is all very familiar.

I adore the mix of folk and “real life” dark drama that Wheatley presents here. He really is the fucking best when it comes to uncovering this underbelly of a secret British culture. One of his only films to date that doesn’t have that occultish edge, but it had most of his favourite faces, including Gareth Tuley. Captured in the style of a documentary, the flare is with the brilliance of the acting and  swift shocking kills, especially those which involved Eric (David Schaal).

For me there are no faults here, it’s true brilliance from beginning until the twisted shocking end. I do often hope that somehow there is a follow on to this, Down Terrace 2 could be terrifying, almost as terrifying as living next door to these nutjobs… but in all honesty, how well do you know your neighbours?

Rating 10/10

R – Sightseers, kill list,
L  – Great British Crime movies, psychotic families
5BBen Wheatley, Robin Hill,

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