A spare, intense crime movie set in Northern Ireland, this showcases an excellent star turn from Sarah Bolger as a widowed young mum who has to go to extremes when the violent gangland which took her husband’s life spills into her house. Tito (Andrew Simpson), a chancer in an unhelpfully distinctive orange hoodie, ram-raids a couple of drug dealers on a rough estate and forces his way into the home of Sarah Collins (Sarah Bolger, from The Moth Diaries and Emelie), who is already thoroughly putupon by the police’s lack of interest in the murder case, the disdain of her middle-class Mum (Jane Brennan), embarrassing privations like having to pry batteries out of a toy to power her vibrator, and the demands of her two young children, one of whom hasn’t spoken since witnessing her husband’s stabbing. Tito quixotically offers her a partnership in the drug score, and makes himself creepily comfortable in her front room. Of course, local druglord Miller (Edward Hogg, in a ‘Sean Harris’ role) – who has a persnickity sense of grammar – wants to extract vengeance from the rip-off artist.
Rather like Dominic Brunt’s Bait, a FrightFest choice in 2014, this depicts an ordinary woman being downtrodden by criminals and economic circumstances, eventually being compelled to gruesome acts which earn the film a slot in a horror festival, though it might otherwise be a Ken Loach chick flick take on Harry Brown. Ronan Blaney’s script so pared down that the tight little knot of a plot is almost too neat – that scene with the knife, the batteries and the vibrator is actually a setup for a later violent plot development, while Abner Pastoll (Road Games) directs with an eye for local detail – and a confidence that just pointing the camera at the excellent Bolger’s face during the most squirm-inducing sequences will convey more than the flashes of special effects gore. Nevertheless, there’s one Fun With a Severed Head moment that’ll stick in the memory.
[a fuller review will appear in Sight & Sound]