Tower Block James Nun & Ronnie Thompson

Tower Block James Nun & Ronnie Thompson
7
British screenwriter James Moran has penned another firecracker of a script. Savage horror comedies Severance and Cockneys vs. Zombies (out on video soon) rank amongst the best in the genre, and Tower Block offers proof the man is equally adept at applying his vivid imagination and gruesome wit to the gritty thriller field. Set in the squalor of England's low and no-income, crime-ridden "tower blocks," the story concerns a group of residents occupying a floor in one of these vertical trailer parks refusing to relocate so that the owner can demolish the building. On this level, a crap-heel named Kurtis (Jack O'Connell, Skins) extorts the other residents for "protection." As long as they cough up a few quid, the chest-puffing hooligan won't start smashing flats. His protection is revealed as false when it comes to violence from anyone besides himself; the film starts with the brutal beating of a young kid right there in the hallway. The only person brave enough to try to help is Becky (the versatile Sheridan Smith, Hysteria), who receives a trip to the hospital for her trouble. Partly because of an inherent distrust of the police and partly because the assailants were masked, nobody in Tower Block 31 cooperates with the authorities in the investigation of the boy's death. Months later, these stubborn residents find themselves under assault from a mysterious sniper. The tension of not knowing when the next character will be cut down by precision marksmanship is reminiscent of King of the Hill (the 2007 Spanish thriller, not the Mike Judge cartoon). And make no mistake, these are characters we're worried about, not merely fodder for a body count. Even the earliest victims are invested with distinct enough personality traits to feel authentic, but the refreshingly unsentimental character arcs of the primary players set Tower Block apart from the average thriller. When the reason behind the killings is revealed, it feels like a bit of a stretch, but then again, senseless acts of violence, by definition, can never be justified, so any reason must be the mutated excuse of a psychopath. Effectively shot, smartly written and well acted across the board, Tower Block makes a great companion piece to last year's unnerving class horror, Citadel. Unfortunately, no special features are included on the DVD. (Mongrel Media)