By midlandsmovies, Nov 23 2018 01:08PM
Calibre (2018) Dir. Matt Palmer
In the last 2 years Netflix has been the home of interesting independent film that allows the platform to champion smaller films and lesser known filmmakers and has, please see my best of the year lists from 2016 & 2017, created many more satisfying movies in the process.
During the same period, a number of Midlands filmmakers have seen their productions gain bigger budgets and with access to more resources and developing talents, Calibre is a film that bridges these two exciting areas – especially with a focus such as ours.
Here, Nottingham’s Wellington Films have created a thriller set in Scotland where two friends embark on a hunting excursion in the Highlands. Marcus (Martin McCann) is a confident businessman who invites childhood friend Vaughn (Jack Lowden) to a shoot in the woods and after entering a small village plagued by economic woes, settle down in a bar before their hunt the next morning. That evening they meet two girls and Marcus leaves the pub with one despite receiving a warning from a local.
The next morning and with heavy hangovers the duo head to the woods and Vaughn, shooting for the first time, accidentally kills a young boy in a fluke shot. The boy’s father appears and raises his gun but Marcus shoots him dead before convincing Vaughn no one will believe it was an accident. They bury the bodies at night and then do their best to exit town.
The film sets up its simple premise with thoughtful and engaging character work, small details are symbolically presented throughout and the location is equally the great outdoors and the oppressive indoors. This sense of inescapability – both physically and from the terrible past act – is the film’s driving force. A knife in the tyres from the brother of one of the girls they were warned away from means the two lads’ car becomes incapacitated. And this in surmounting pressure of the town becomes more and more unbearable with the audience unable to escape their own feelings of unpreventable pressure.
Unable to fix their vehicle quickly and with the local taxi driver drunk, the locals set out in search of the missing boy after their suspicions become aroused. And as the reality starts to hit home, the film heads into dark territory as the secrets become a scary reality for everyone involved.
Both leads hold the film together – Jack Lowden is excellent as the wide-eyed hunt virgin whose expression of innocence slowly turns to physical sickness – whilst Martin McCann’s performance is a fantastic mixture of loud-mouth cockiness and sinister self-assurance.
The direction captures the Scottish area well and each location is brilliantly filmed and perfectly establishes the setting and scene. From cosy but awkward local pubs to dirty farm buildings, they sit well alongside photography of forests which show beauty, but also horror, as they hide mysteries (and bodies) within the confines of stifling trees.
A great support cast play a host of residents, none of which you can be entirely sure are kindly residents or lethal locals, but it’s this guessing game that maintains Calibre’s invigorating narrative. With a hint of Kill List, a dashing of Wicker Man and splash of In Bruges, Calibre’s thematic influences are varied but it carves out its own unique position as a tremendously tight and tense thriller.