Ben Wheatley’s debut film, Down Terrace (2009) plots a pathway to Sightseers (2012) via Kill List (2011) underlining the perceived normality of violent death and the lack of concern over murder for little or no reason.
The film opens with father and son, Bill (Robert Hill) and Karl (Robin Hill), leaving the local District Law Court, apparently getting away with a charge of drug dealing. Both men, and wife and mother Maggie (Julia Deakin), are convinced they have been ‘grassed up’ and set about discovering the identity of the culprit intending to administer their own form of justice. To make matters worse Karl ex girlfriend Valda (Kerry Peacock) arrives at the family home to announce that she expecting a baby, but Bill is not convinced that his son is the father.
|Father Bill (Robert Hill)|
|Mother Maggie (Julia Deakin)|
Those of you that are familiar with Wheatley’s impressive, but small, body of work will not need telling that this is not your standard ‘Brit gangster flick’ more a study of a dysfunctional working class family who just so happen to be a drug dealing gangsters. Shot like a fly on the wall home movie at Robert Hill’s house in Brighton, where the film is set, not the tourist seaside resort but on the large modern housing scheme known as the Whitehawk Estate. Robin Hill, real life son of debut actor Robert Hill, co-wrote the story with Ben Wheatley, they detail charactors that are played by a cast that make this black comedy totally believable. One of who, the professional hit man Pringle (the expressive Michael Smiley), has childcare problems so he ends up taking his toddler along with him on a botched hit!
|Karl (Robin Hill)|
Shoot for a minimal budget of £6000 it went on to win Best British Feature at the Raindance Festival and Wheatley won Best Newcomer at the London Evening Standard awards, but unfortunately the film did not get a wide release. Where Sightseers can be described as Mike Leigh's Nuts in May (1976) with serial killing, Down Terrace is Secrets and Lies (1996) with plastic sheeting and duck tape!!!!!
|Pringle (Michael Smiley) with his toddler.|