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Stars: Danny Dyer, Ann Walton, James Doherty, David Flynn, Alan McKenna, Roy Smiles, Ben Wigzell, Elijah Baker, Miles Hobson

Director: J K Amalou

Writer-director J.K. Amalou’s efficient hostage thriller doesn’t pretend to be anything more than a good and unpretentious thrill ride and as such it succeeds, following the format of such genre films as The Hitcher in fine low-budget fettle. (Indeed, it’s possible that in the long-ago days of the second feature, ‘Deviation’ might have been singled out as superior to the general run of cheap supporting films).

Which is not to make false claims on its behalf: it’s very much an economical genre offering whose plot can be summed up as the traditional riff on the ’psycho kidnaps girl’ storyline. Here the psycho is Dyer. On the run from the law, he hijacks nurse Walton and her car as a means to facilitate his escape.

So far, so routine.

However, two key strands kept me watching without becoming restless.

The first was Dyer. Bearded at first, he appears to be your standard scowling psycho who briskly scares Walton out of her wits. After a shave, however, the character becomes a great deal more interesting. While Dyer still behaves like a psychopath, his behaviour appears far more menacing and heinous when seen in the context of the now baby-faced abductor.

His strong but surprisingly subtle (particularly when required to switch from scary psycho to psychopathic would-be charming romancer within a single scene) performance adds scary resonance and depth to what would otherwise simply be a schematic shock-film character.. When he tells Walton he is “Just making sure you have nightmares about me in the afterlife”, you believe him. So does Walton whose competent portrayal of a worm who finally turns triumphantly adds depth to Dyer’s.

The second reason to stay with the story is Amalou’s well-constructed screenplay which constantly changes context by springing unexpected and well-executed surprises and a really effective final twist.

No masterpiece, perhaps, but interestingly acted and strongly suspenseful, with fine wide screen cinematography (Ollie Downey) that makes dramatically good use of the location-set story.

Alan Frank

UK 2011. UK Distributor: Revolver Entertainment. Colour.
90 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 19 Feb 2012