An unusual pick for FrightFest, this is at once a trim 74 minute tale with a (mild) twist and a slow-burning study of modern alienation, loneliness and rage. White collar drone Warren Matthews (Oliver Towner) is patently unsuited for his telesales job, simmering with fury and bristling whenever co-workers approach, so his boss Mike (Stefan Boehm) gets yes-man Greg (Sam Kacher) to provoke a tussle which allows Mike to make Warren redundant. Cast adrift, Warren seeks revenge by battering Greg in the street, putting him in a coma, but he also seeks professional help, talking things through with Psychiatrist Arnold Becker (Robert Eldridge). Apparently taking good advice, Warren visits Greg in hospital, accepts the interest of former co-worker Emma (Lizzie Davies) and visits his also-comatose grandmother in a nursing home.
Woven through this relatively simple, almost life-affirming drama are sinister hints about the root causes of Warren’s anger – involving his abusive religious fanatic parents and their earlier attempt to cope with his problems in the worst way imaginable. Things are tied up, inevitably, with violence – but there’s also a sense of personal, unspiritual exorcism which is interesting if liable to provoke debate. In essence, does this suggest that assault up to an perhaps including murder is more likely to be a path to mental health than any amount of the talking cure – though this is an unusual revenge story in which the avenger also has to make some sort of reparation to those he has hurt even as he seeks payback from those who’ve done him injury.
Made on an extremely limited budget by writer-director Matthew Heaven, this is perhaps a little too quiet for its own good – though Towner is credible as the protagonist, and there’s a nice sense of rainy provincial nowhereness to the ordinary settings with the occasional pull-back to a more God’s eye view (the image of Warren lying in a roofless church is apt) of troubled people driving at night or wandering the country by day. In a solid cast, Eldridge is excellent as the bland-to-the-point-of-being-unsettling therapist and Davies does a lot with the potentially thankless role of token sane nice person.