sat 02/03/2024

The Toll review - once upon a time in west Wales | reviews, news & interviews

The Toll review - once upon a time in west Wales

The Toll review - once upon a time in west Wales

Brassy indie flick provides a fun slice of pulp cinema

Michael Smiley, Iwan Rheon, Paul Kaye and a tied-up Gary Beadle

Budget constraints. In the hands of the right filmmakers, they can be a blessing in disguise, forcing creativity from simplicity. That’s exactly what works for The Toll, a dark comedy set in the wild west of these isles: Pembrokeshire.

Michael Smiley plays a nameless toll booth operator in the middle of a large coastal wasteland. What the booth is for isn’t clear – there’s plenty of room to drive around it. But there’s a heavy implication that doing so would put you on the wrong side of the mild-mannered operator, and the locals know better than that.Evelyn Mok and Darren Evans in The TollThere’s a taste of the spaghetti western to proceedings. Our lead with no name has an unspoken history, and a chance encounter with an old ally is bringing that past to Wales. With guns. It’s time to round up a gang of eccentrics to fight off the invading outlaws.

Ryan Andrew Hooper's debut feature is perfect for film aficionados looking for a light bite of entertainment. Eighty-three minutes of swearing, gore and just enough twists to keep you on your toes. Quotable one-liners are ten-a-penny, and a few Easter eggs for those with a keen eye.

The film continues a long lineage of British deadpan. There’s certainly a homage to Kevin Allen’s Twin Town with the madcap Welsh crime, but the mood feels closer to Ben Wheatley’s oeuvre; no surprise then to find a few of his regulars in the cast (Michael Smiley, Steve Oram).Paul Kaye and Iwan Rheon in The TollWhat’s most refreshing about The Toll is it never tries to be anything it’s not. It’s a low-budget crime caper with a small but game cast and a select few stunning Welsh locations. The pace never drops and the tone never turns too sentimental. It’s pulp cinema, down to the Tarantino-esque shoot-out crescendo, all striking images and stylised violence.

For those looking for a little getaway this summer, play it safe. Avoid coming to Wales and stick to your local independent cinema instead.


It offers eighty-three minutes of swearing, gore and just enough twists to keep you on your toes


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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Saw this last night in Aber with another 20 odd pensioners. We all loved it. There are plenty of people like that round here. Be very scared. Shame only a handful of cinemas showing it.

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