Down Terrace Ben Wheatley

Down Terrace Ben Wheatley
If Down Terrace were to end somewhere around the 45-minute mark, it would easily be one of the best films of 2010. But, unfortunately, it drags on after the initial witty banter and dark comedy shock value have worn off, dwelling on slightly contrived plot twists, double-crosses and increasingly unlikely murder scenarios to wrap up a story that would have been fine without any significant happenings. Said story starts when father and son crime family duo Bill (Robert Hill) and Karl (Robin Hill) are released from prison to their family home, where most of the film takes place. With the passive-aggressive and emotionally volatile Karl freaking out over the incidental, while his sociopathic, philosophizing father doles out condescending insults and pointless stories, this deadpan gangster parody plays off their unhealthy dynamic, often taking jabs at the genre, while a series of secondary players (hit men, a pregnant ex-girlfriend, etc.) exacerbate this by stopping by the house in an effort to establish who ratted-out Bill and Karl in the first place. Playful wordplay and surprising assumptions about the motivations of friends and colleagues drive the first half of Ben Wheatley's directorial debut, injecting the occasional shocking image, such as an elderly woman with a walker being pushed in front of a car, to maintain the visceral component. It's just that once this gangster family starts killing people and running around to different locations, the dark tone overtakes the comedy, leaving things feeling dishevelled and thrown together. This doesn't ruin the movie by any means, as the experience of watching it is still exceedingly amusing and consistently magnetic; it's just frustrating to spend the last half of a film wondering where all the wit and ire went. The DVD includes a commentary track with Wheatley and Robin Hill, wherein they discuss the shooting style and characters. There is also a special effects featurette, which shows trial runs of the violence portrayed in the film, along with some camera tests and some less engaging short films. (Evokative)