Saturday, September 1, 2007

Dead Man's Shoes

Just for a change of pace, here’s something that’s not connected to a single horror franchise. More than that, though, it’s not even a horror movie at all, despite some small similarities to a slasher film in the way the main character dispatches several of his enemies. I know what you’re thinking, is it even possible for a movie to be good when it’s not a horror film? Well, read on, and be amazed.

The plot is pretty basic, as revenge movies tend to be. After several years in the military, a man (Paddy Considine) has returned home to wreak his revenge upon a gang that systematically abused and eventually caused the death of his younger brother. He does so. The end. With some slight tweaking, this describes the plot of a couple hundred movies, though this one does enact its well-worn story with no small amount of skill. The film wisely keeps mostly to the perspective of the gang members that are scared out of their minds about getting killed by someone that blatantly outclasses them all. His early appearances, showing up at night with a World War 1 era gas mask on for no reason other than to look that extra little bit scary, help this tremendously, as does the fact that some of the earlier deaths happen off-camera, leaving us with naught but the aftermath to worry about.

Not everything works. The flashbacks showing the gang’s abuse of the brother show that, while being assholes, they really weren’t bad enough to warrant being tormented and killed. The ending is also a little wonky, though it does contain a couple nice revelations about Considine’s own feelings towards his kid brother, and about the situation in general. The film also starts off pretty damn slowly, with the gang members just sitting around chatting about nothing memorable until they finally start being attacked. Overall, though, it’s a pretty satisfying film, and you’ll probably enjoy it more than the upcoming Jodie Foster film The Brave One, another film in this genre that I have little confidence in. Go check it out if you’re tired or rewatching all the Death Wish movies.

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