mon 20/05/2024

Down Terrace | reviews, news & interviews

Down Terrace

Down Terrace

Move over, Guy Ritchie: a low-key, little English gem

The Royle family with guns: Robin Hill, co-writer, editor and actor in 'Down Terrace'

Tired of the slick, pastiche world of the post-Lock, Stock... British crime movie? Then Down Terrace may be the address for you. Director Ben Wheatley’s micro-budget, naturalistic debut details the paranoid decline of a drug-dealing family in the back end of Brighton. They’re the Royle family with access to hand guns - a deadly and funny combination.

Robin Hill (also editor, and co-writer with Wheatley) stars as Karl, with his screen dad Eric played by real dad Robert, whose terraced house is the main set. Both performers are excellent, as a fading patriarch who mixes menace and charm, and his weak, angry son. The cramped setting, which opens up only for bodies to be buried in nearby countryside, suits a story of cramped hopes and claustrophobic suspicion, as the fear of a grass in their midst leads to an exponentially spiralling murder rate.

down-terraceKillers include cheery Uncle Eric, supposed IRA and Bosnian war veteran Pringle (somewhat off his game since he started babysitting his toddler during hits), and steely matriarch Maggie (Julia Deakin, pictured right), the Lady Macbeth of the Brighton back streets. The black humour of each demise, though, isn’t observed with the superior sneers the Coen brothers would adopt at such idiots. Wheatley and Hill act more as embedded observers in what is, after all, Hill’s family home, settling back to hear dad Eric’s stoned monologues at Karl’s failure to do up the living room, when he’s not putting plastic sheeting on its floor to catch another bloody corpse.

There’s a sense of sympathy at these lives, as much as amusement, like Mike Leigh with a more forgiving gaze. Hill edits with the longueurs and sudden jumps of the characters’ gently dope-strained minds, not the sleek cross-cuts of Lock, Stock… or Layer Cake. This seems a more realistic portrayal of everyday life for an ageing career-criminal family in a sleepy corner of England, killing when professionally required in between cooking the Sunday roast and rowing about inappropriate girlfriends. The black comedy and body count are really little more than a garnish for an affectionate look at a working-class family of ne’er do wells. Down Terrace is a low-key, little English gem.

Watch the Down Terrace trailer

The black humour of each demise, though, isn’t observed with the superior sneers the Coen brothers would adopt at such idiots

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does anybody know where this film is showing apart from ICA

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