Silent Night review – British crime thriller set in drab exurbs | Film

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This modestly budgeted but not unambitious crime thriller set in the deep exurbs of London stars Bradley Taylor as Mark, an ex-con with the angry frightened eyes of a whipped pitbull. Not long out of prison and struggling to find legitimate work so he can sidle back into the lives of his young daughter (Oriana Rodrigues-Cova) and suspicious former partner Jules (Angela Terence), he gets some “tree work” clearing branches in the forest. There he’s surprised to find his mouthy one-time cellmate Alan (Cary Crankson, entertainingly violent) also on the job. The two pal up again and before you can say “parole violation” they’re lured away from the path of righteousness and offered work assassinating rivals for some gruff gangsters, led by Caddy (Frank Harper, alumnus of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels).

It all goes predictably wrong as Mark fails to curb Alan’s brutal, erratic instincts and the film’s midsection chalks up an unfeasibly high body count as blunders turn into minor disasters and then major screwups. Debutant writer-director Will Thorne, who comes from a background producing/directing light entertainment on TV, displays a knack for juggling gruesome violence and black humour and draws sturdy performances from the cast, who have an easy rapport with one another. (A bunch of them all seemed to have worked together on a 2013 film called Rock and Roll Fuck’n’Lovely.) But there is a derivativeness about the script that means the big twist is exasperatingly easy to spot early on. Still, props for the grey desiccated look to the cinematography and production design that evokes the exhausted, depressed feel of shabby English neighbourhoods, knackered garages and provincial night clubs with bad drugs.

• Silent Night is released on 11 December in cinemas and 14 December on digital formats.

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Source: The Guardian
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