Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Penny Thoughts ‘14—Down Terrace (2009) ***½

R, 89 min.
Director: Ben Wheatley
Writers: Robin Hill, Ben Wheatley
Starring: Robin Hill, Robert Hill, Julia Deakin, David Schaal, Tony Way, Kerry Peacock, Michael Smiley, Mark Kempner

“Down Terrace” is the debut film of British writer/director Ben Wheatley, who has proved to be a unique and original voice with a tendency toward the strange and the macabre. His latest movie is called “A Field in England” and involves soldiers of England’s 17th century civil war, who enter some sort of drug-induced treasure hunt for an alchemist. His previous film, “Sightseers”, followed the exploits of the most everyday serial killers ever portrayed. I suppose in its way, “Down Terrace” is Wheatley’s version of “Downton Abbey”.

The movie follows a father and son just after they’ve been released from prison. They’re drug dealers and after getting settled back into their flat with friends and family and a little buzz, they concern themselves with just who might’ve fingered them for the police. As will happen when exploring such questions and sampling their own product, paranoia sets in. Was it the guy who seems to worship them and wants more responsibility? What it the laid back muscle who is all to eager to eliminate anyone they tell him to? Was it the girlfriend who shows up several months pregnant after a short-lived relationship with the son before he went away? Could the baby possibly be his? What about the cop who is supposed to watch out for them?

What works so well here is also what worked so well for “Sightseers”. These people are so normal. They aren’t some sort of movie version of gangsters or drug dealers who get so big they cannot be contained any more. These men couldn’t get any smaller. It’s hard to imagine they’re capable of running a fly-by-night house painting crew, let alone a drug crew.

Yet their imaginations are broad and get the best of them after a while. The father and son butt heads like a father and son. The mother is the enigma for much of the film, but when her true colors start to show, the family business begins to make a little more sense. Then Wheatley gets really twisted and we discover that the son just might have some of his mother in him as well. Like every Wheatley film I’ve seen, you won’t have seen any movie like this one before.

No comments: