Smells like paranoid potheads – Down Terrace

If you started watching this film without prior knowledge that it was meant to be a comedy ten you would have initial thoughts of “Oh, loach-leigh-arnold-esque without any of their redeeming features”. It is very kitchen sink, not least because of its almost entirely being set inside the house of the main protagonists. The film beings with Karl (Robin Hill) and his dad Bill (Robert Hill) getting out of jail after a few months inside for drug offences. It becomes clear it was drug offences when one of the first things that happens is their “friend” Garvey hands over a pile of cash and tells them how smoothly things have been going, not only that the fact that Karl and Bill start puffing away on the marijuana almost immediately.

Robin Hill is not the best actor (most of his credits are for editing) but he has written himself a art that he can get away with not being amazing, especially as his father in the film is played by real-life dad. The first real hint that this is not just the average gritty drama about drugs and crime is when Karl is screaming at his mum (beautifully convincingly played by Julia Deakin of Spaced fame), because he cant find some letters in his room, then total dead pans when he finds them exactly where he left them.

There is a supporting cast of characters some familiar faces off the small screen; Tony Way has a long run of supporting TV comedy characters to his name and Michael Smiley who normally plays more dramatic characters. They all suit the intimate vibe and low-key nature of this feature. Written (along with Robin Hill) and directed by Ben Wheatley hose collaborations with Hill are what led to this feature.

The comedy is low key but there are some laugh out loud moments such as when Karl shows too much interest in Pringle’s 3 year old son (due to the fact Karl himself has found out his ex-girlfriend is pregnant with his child) Pringle treats him like a nonce (Daily Mail readers no doubt would have a fit at a joke with even a hint of paedophilia).

The darkest of comedies the laughs really kick in when people start dying. The family fuel each other’s paranoia and with Maggie’s inherent criminal family background she is top of the list of the schemes of who has been dobbing in the families doings to the police and attempting a takeover. With scenes of drug taking peppered throughout the paranoia of the whole family (Maggie’s chosen vice being booze) is understandable and makes for even better comedy – the killings start to get out of and you never know who is going to be next except that you wonder if anyone will be left standing.

This film is like “The Last Supper” but without he moralising, the killings here are purely about power and control but they are somehow just as humorous and once they get going you get just as stuck in as the characters.

Julia Deakin is by far the vest actor in the film and every scene she is in is lifted by her presence. There are a couple of musical interludes which seem written purely as a showcase for Robert Hill, using one of is obvious unsung talents but they make a nice contrast to the dark tone of the rest of the film.

With Robin Hill looking like Adam Buxton’s speccier brother he has a face made for comedy. This is a low to no budget b the looks of it and it is good to see that you don’t need a massive budget or stellar cast to make a nice little film. Dark and gritty and British – we like.

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