A CUT ABOVE
Director: Marc Price
Screenplay: Marc Price
Review: RJ Bland
Film-making, especially at the independent end of the spectrum, is often a profession fraught with risk and stress and constant financial worries. It's not all glamour, awards do's and after parties, you know? In the movies, they don't fare much better either. Since The Blair Witch Project, a healthy number of amateur film-makers have lost their lives (or their sanity) whilst trying to record and log the events around them as things have gone from bad to worse. And although the found-footage genre seems to have had its day and is currently hiding under a rock somewhere, that doesn't mean that low-budget film crews are safe. Far from it...
When a film-maker discovers that a local tower block is set to be demolished, he sees it as an ideal opportunity to film the last scenes of his upcoming movie. A free, empty building is just too good to turn down. So he takes his cast and crew there for a final nighshoot. However he forgets to relay the news to his bickering team that the derelict building is set to be blown up in the morning. Tensions are already running high and the discovery that they are about ten stories up a building that is set to be rubble in the morning doesn't help matters either. However, things take a more sinister turn when one of the cameras records something going on in the adjacent building. Turns out that a group of local criminals are looking for a place away from prying eyes to carry out a gangland execution. The film crew soon notice the shenanigans in the building opposite and curiosity turns to horror when they witness the murder take place. To make matters even worse, they have been spotted – and their already shitty night is about to get a lot worse...
Director Marc Price made his name with his ultra ultra low-budget zombie flick 'Colin' back in 2008. For a film apparently made for less than £100, it's a pretty extraordinary film-making debut. Since then he has donned caps as producer, writer and director for a number of features including 'Before Dawn' (2013) and 'Way of the Monkey's Claw' (2012) – an action packed London Gangsta/Ninja flick. It's the latter that Nightshooters takes its lead from however and just as he has done throughout his film-making career, Price shows that you don't need lots of cash to make a highly entertaining movie (although I'm sure It helps). The squabbling film-crew that populate this movie have to use their film-making ingenuity to try and survive, and Price has kind of done the same thing – to great effect.
Nightshooters is actually nearly 100 minutes long, which for a low budget action flick, is quite an undertaking. Yet, Nightshooters blasts through this in a blaze of swearing, one-liners and non-stop violence. It's not an easy task to maintain such a relentless pace to a movie but the film manages to do just that, providing a few much needed breathers in between all the fighting so we can gather our thoughts. The first fifteen minutes or so set everything up nicely, with the script allowing us to explore the personalities and relationships of two sets of dysfunctional groups; the film crew and the gangsters. There are quite a few characters to get acquainted with but through a mixture of sharp, efficient writing and a doses of black comedy, it's never a problem. The other good thing here is that a large number of characters means that we get to enjoy a clutch of enjoyably over the top deaths before we start eating into the central cast.
Whilst we're on the subject, part of the success of Nighshooters is down to the quality of the people in front of the camera as well as behind ir. Adam McNab is great as the director in above his head whilst Rosanna Hoult and Nicky Evans are also great fun to watch as the practical FX chick and the sound guy. Richard Sandling excels as the big baddie but a lot of the plaudits will go to Jean-Paul Ly, who is involved in some top-notch fighting scenes, which are fantastically choreographed.
Kudos to Price as well for creating an interesting and very watchable set of characters who it's just fun to be in the company of.
Among all the fisticuffs and tomfoolery, there are also a few moments where things get a bit more serious and this emotional focus and care help it stand above most other indie action-comedies. This dramatic undercurrent acts as a reminder that although we're mainly tuning in to see some great action sequences and decent on-screen chemistry, we do ultimately care about what happens to this set of characters. When we lose someone big, we feel it.
If there are any criticisms then they are minor. The story does sag a little around the halfway mark and some will be put off a little by the sheer volume of bad language. It's not about taking offence as such, it's just that it feels a little uneccessary on occasion.
However, these quibbles are insignificant when compared to all the good stuff there is to enjoy about Nighshooters. If you like your movies smart, fast and full of thrills, then you'll lap this one up.