One of those shaggy dog stories in which escalating acts of foolishness and malice lead to extreme violence, with some sort of underlying state-of-the-nation message – trudging down a grim, muddy lane in the welly bootprints of Eden Lake and The Riot Club. It’s also another of FrightFest’s current glut of misery-on-a-farm movies, as five dodgy builders – working off the books for cash-in-hand as a desperate tax fiddle – discover that Simon (Kevin Guthrie), the ex-military toff who’s supposed to be paying them, doesn’t have cash to hand and is so preoccupied with his other financial woes he doesn’t notice the simmering, combustible nature of the workmen toiling on his property.
Amiable if weak crew boss Bob (Steve Speirs) has given Steve (Charley Palmer Rothwell) — his criminally-inclined, piss-taking rat of a nephew — a job out of a family loyalty which will never be repaid. Steve slacks off while Ukranian Viktor (Goran Bogdan), who really hates being called Russian, does twice his share of the work, and the rest of the gang waver about whose side to take whenever disputes come up. Simon is occasionally matey with the workmen, but also prone to banishing them to sleep in a non-rainproof barn – and when Bob overhears that actual payment is unlikely, things get out of hand quickly. Tangentially involved in Amy (Amber Rose Revah), Simon’s posh but nice fiancee, whose presence doesn’t bring out the best in most of the crew, but who also has her own issues with Simon.
The bleak set-up plays well, with rifts in the group leading to horrible mistakes – though writer-director Will Jewell perhaps throws in a few too many last act developments and blunts the impact of the piece. Speirs is outstanding as the decent, desperate bloke with astonishingly poor people judgement skills, and Revah – deceptively not given much to do early on, but then the token innocent in peril – is plainly a role or two away from breakout stardom. Guthrie is airily infuriating as the penniless landowner with a cut-glass accent and cold heart, while Rothwell chews scenery as the guy (every one of these gets-out-of-hand horrors has one) who takes a bad situation as an excuse to become an absolutely murderous psycho.
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