Thursday, July 5, 2018

Movie Review: Calibre

Calibre *** ½ / *****
Directed by: Matt Palmer.
Written by: Matt Palmer.
Starring: Jack Lowden (Vaughn), Martin McCann (Marcus), Tony Curran (Logan McClay), Ian Pirie (Brian McClay), Cal MacAninch (Al), Kate Bracken (Iona), Cameron Jack (Frank), Therese Bradley (Mary), George Anton (Angus), Olivia Morgan (Anna), Kitty Lovett (Kara).
Matt Palmer’s directorial debut Calibre is a lean, mean genre film that proceeds down its inevitable path with brisk pacing, and quietly building tension. The film isn’t going to win any awards for originality, but it is so surefooted and well-made on every level that it’s really impossible to complain. The film grabs you from the outset, and doesn’t let go as the film gets gradually more terrifying as it moves along.
Two city lads from Scotland are heading into the country for a hunting weekend. Vaughn (Jack Lowden) is engaged, and his fiancé is pregnant, and he doesn’t really want to go hunting – he’s never gone before, and has no real desire to change that. But his friend, Marcus (Martin McCann) is insistent – and Marcus is not the type of guy you say no to. They have been friends since their wild boarding school days, and while Vaughn has mainly grown up, Marcus hasn’t. Still, the trip gets off to a good enough start – drinks at the local pub where they meet the intimidating, but mostly friendly locals in a town that is slowly dying – they even meet a couple of girls. Vaughn doesn’t do anything to betray his fiancée – but with no such woman in his life, Marcus has no such qualms. The next morning, more than a little hungover, they head out for a day of hunting. As Vaughn lines up a shot on a deer, and pulls the trigger the deer’s head suddenly moves – revealing a small child behind him who Vaughn catches square in the forehead. This tragic accident is compounded when the boy’s father appears moments later – and Marcus acts out of preservation instincts. From there, of course, the pair of them try to cover their tracks – Marcus takes charge and makes one bad decision after another, and Vaughn is too weak to say no. You know the pair of them aren’t going to make it to the much discussed bonfire on Sunday night without more and more bad stuff happening.
Palmer’s influences here are pretty clear – from John Boorman’s Deliverance to hints of Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man, he makes his film as a slowly mounting horror film. After the horrible accident, every conversation the pair have with the locals becomes more and more fraught. There is a terrific dinner sequence between the pair and the local leader Logan (Tony Curran) – a big bearded man with a deep voice and another man who is quite like him that would have made Hitchcock proud for instance. The cinematography is great – making great use of the Scottish forests as a dark and foreboding place, with the sound design and score responsible for the tension being ratcheted up more and more throughout.
There really is nothing new to Calibre – it is a straight ahead genre film to be sure, but it’s such a surefooted one – one that grabs you and doesn’t let go that you really cannot complain about it. The movie is clever in that it doesn’t always go the way we think it will – it zigs when we think it will zag, but never in a way that feels like a cheat. More first time filmmakers would be smart to do a paired down genre film like Calibre for their first film – show you can do that, before you get more ambitious. Calibre is precisely the film it wants to be – and an immensely promising debut film to be sure.

No comments:

Post a Comment