Film Review: Comedown (2012)

SYNOPSIS:

Six inner city youths break into a derelict tower block to set up a pirate radio mast but soon realise they are not the only occupants when they find themselves being picked off one by one

REVIEW:

Another week, another tower block movie. This one treads much the same ground as its contemporaries and despite being competently made has little to distinguish itself from the rest. Lloyd (Jacob Anderson) has just been released from prison and heads back to the south London housing estate where he lives with pregnant girlfriend Jem (Sophie Stuckey). He also meets up with his crew: aggressive Jason (Adam Deacon), pyromaniac Gal (Calum McNab), slutty Kel (Jessica Barden) and slow-witted Col (Duane Henry). In exchange for fifty quid and some drugs, Lloyd agrees to break into an abandoned high-rise tower block to set up a pirate radio mast for local DJ Creeper (Stephen Taylor).

Surprised to find the elevator still working, the gang make their way to the top floor where they intend to get drunk and high once their errand is done. Jason goads Lloyd about who the father of Jem’s baby might be, provoking a quarrel which ends with Jem stomping off on her own. Lloyd sets up the mast and shares a conciliatory drink with Jason, who has secretly spiked his beer. Heading up to the roof to fetch Jem and head home, Lloyd can find no trace of her.

By now the rest of the crew is totally mashed and fail to comprehend Lloyd’s concern for Jem’s welfare. It’s not until they see shadowy figures in the corridors that they begin to realise something is seriously wrong. They believe they have found the culprit when they capture a member of a rival gang but he too is searching for a friend who has disappeared. They resolve to join forces to find their friends but their new ally is suddenly stabbed violently through the throat and their nightmare has just begun.

If you’re thinking that summary makes it sound like a Brit slasher movie then you’d be absolutely right. COMEDOWN shamelessly plagiarizes a load of other, better films – most notably Tony Maylam’s classic slasher THE BURNING [1981] – and regurgitates them in an inner city hellhole setting. And there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with that approach; of all genres, horror is the one which most recycles itself. The problem with COMEDOWN isn’t that it’s unoriginal: the problem is that it doesn’t take you anywhere interesting. You’d like to think that film-makers who rehash old ideas do so because they’ve got some ace trick to play that has nothing to do with the narrative. Dario Argento is a good example: his plots were perfunctory at best because he was far more interested in the design and set pieces. But director Menhaj Huda adds almost nothing in the way of visual flair with the result that his film is rather pedestrian.

It may not be entirely his fault though because I reckon there is a built-in flaw in these ghetto horror movies, particularly the ones aimed at and featuring youngsters. Let’s face it, if any of these people sat next to you on the bus, you’d move; and if that proved impossible it’s unlikely their conversation would be profound. So if the director and cast are doing their jobs properly, you’re looking at 90 minutes in the company of appalling people who have nothing interesting to say and, furthermore, an incredibly foul-mouthed and aggressive way of saying it.

I suppose it’s the British equivalent of the hordes of obnoxious American teenagers that routinely feature in US horror movies. I’m not quite sure when the trend for having such repellent ‘heroes’, for want of a better term, in horror movies began but thinking about it now it occurs to me that it may have coincided with the rise of the slasher movie, which required a production line of victims in whom we were encouraged to have little emotional investment. That absence of a conventional hero probably led in turn to the rise of the super-villain – Freddy, Jason, Michael and so on – to fill the vacuum.

I’m digressing. The bottom line is that if you’ve recently seen ATTACK THE BLOCK or TOWER BLOCK then there really is little point in seeing this one as well, unless you’re a particular aficionado of this curious, self-defeating sub-genre.

Comedown (2012)

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2 Responses to Film Review: Comedown (2012)

  1. e8hffff says:

    Why are films from UK and Canada a showcase of multiculturalism. Unrealistic as most races stick together in schools and afterward.

  2. Daniel King says:

    Perhaps the UK and Canada are more culturally integrated than where you come from. I can only speak for the UK and in this instance London, where I live. London is a genuinely racially integrated city and it simply wouldn’t be able to function properly if it were not. Of course, there are those who resent multiculturalism but they haven’t managed to prevent it.

    What this film perhaps shows is that if the UK suffers from social divisions then it is along class lines. The characters in COMEDOWN are all from the same deprived working class and the situations, locations and personalities reflect that.

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