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  Tower Block High Rise Hell
Year: 2012
Director: Ronnie Thompson, James Nunn
Stars: Sheridan Smith, Ralph Brown, Russell Tovey, Jack O'Connell, Julie Graham, Jill Baker, Nabil Elouahabi, Tony Jayawardena, Montserrat Lombard, Michael Legge, Jamie Thomas King, Christopher Fulford, Ralph Laurila, Loui Batley, Steven Cree, Jordan Long
Genre: ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: One night in the area around this tower block a fifteen-year-old boy was fleeing a couple of masked thugs who he had crossed somehow: what he had done did not justify what ultimately happened to him. Seeking refuge, he rushed into the building and ran up the stairs until he took a detour into one of the corridors and tried to rouse the residents to assist him, banging on their doors but to no avail. Well, almost: one woman, Becky (Sheridan Smith), calls the police and when she's put on hold she plucks up the courage to step in herself to stop the thugs laying into the kid...

She gets beaten up herself, then the victim is dragged away and murdered, but in a British fictional version of the Kitty Genovese incident nobody is willing to do anything about it, and when the police do arrive none of them have anything to say, allowing the killers to get away scot free with their crime. So began a cramped, generally single setting variation on the town with a guilty secret yarn much beloved once upon a time of the Western genre, though the trigger incident is one of inaction rather than action: they failed to help, and that's something they have to live with on their conscience.

Or indeed die with, as once we have established the characters who live on the top of the block, someone starts picking them off. The tenants are all waiting to be rehoused as the block is about to be demolished, adding a spot of social commentary about the dire conditions many high rise accomodations turned into, and the film blames both the authorities and some of the locals who treated the place and their fellow residents with contempt. In this case it's one Kurtis (Jack O'Connell) who brings down the tone of the neighbourhood, running a protection racket which essentially tells them he and his cohorts won't smash up their flats if they pay him money.

Screenwriter James Moran sketched in other personalities with the older couple (Ralph Brown and Jill Baker), the harridan single mother (Monsterrat Lombard from TV series Ashes to Ashes), and the middle aged mother (Julie Graham). They are all angry people in their way, but that anger is impotent and directed at the wrong people quite often, unless they're victims of Kurtis and his team in which case they have every right to be furious with the state of affairs he is not helping with at all. But suddenly this group of people, for whom the only thing they have in common is the rundown location of their homes, find themselves banding together when the sniper starts shooting in through their windows.

This assassin is certainly organised, rather unbelievably so as he seems to have thought of everything to keep the residents within the block all the better for him to kill them, but if you could suspend your disbelief for what was a rather high concept thriller on a rather low budget, Tower Block was lean and efficient in its methods and achievements. That said, you could pretty much guess who was going to be murdered next, as that depended on who had the least lines, so if the actor or actress didn't have much dialogue it was likely their minutes were numbered. Russell Tovey essayed an alcoholic role and didn't say much either, but managed to last, though it was Smith's Becky who proved the unelected leader in the crisis, working out they best course of action even if she was foiled frequently. Interesting in the manner it showed a community arising but solely out of the danger they were in, what it said about human nature was up for debate, but you could easily watch this as a solid suspense piece. Music by Owen Morris.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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