With a narrative that echoes one of the great 1970s horror films, Ben Wheatley’s breakthrough is a startling, shocking and ruthlessly effective.
Ex-soldier and current hitman-for-hire Jay (Wheatley regular Neil Maskell) finds himself with a rare moment at home when he’s visited by fellow contract killer and friend Gal (Michael Smiley, another member of Wheatley’s acting troupe) who tells him of a job that pays well. They meet with the client (Struan Rodger), who immediately unsettles Jay with his preference for sealing a deal – a contract in blood. Nevertheless, Jay agrees to kill the three targets. But as each mark is despatched, Jay becomes aware that something darker is underfoot. The deeper he digs the more he realises that it’s not only his life in danger, but his friend and family’s.
After the success of his low-budget, pitch-black Brighton-based gangster drama debut Down Terrace, Wheatley turned his hand to a classic trope in the British horror genre – blending the supernatural with folklore. The result is a nail-biting thriller whose denouement harks back to one of the great films of the genre. But to tell you which one would give away the surprise.