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Silent Night


Stars: Bradley Taylor, Cary Crankson, Angela Terence, Joel Fry, Frank Harper, Sarah Leigh, Jackie Howe, Nathaniel Martello-White

Director: Will Thorne

Although formulaic in structure, this Brit crime flick is well-made, well-paced, decently-performed and has an almost supernatural twist towards the end that you may not see coming.

Living on the South London/Surrey borders, hitman and bank robber Mark (Taylor) emerges from prison after a long stretch and re-connects with his estranged wife (Terence) and young daughter. He's resolved to go straight, and rather surprisingly gets a job sawing trunks and branches of trees that have been newly felled.

An old friend, loose cannon Alan (Crankston) turns up unexpectedly, as Mark is about to tend to an injured blackbird. Alan's first action is to tread on it. He joins Mark's woodcutting gang, but after an accident that wasn't really Mark's fault, both are fired.

While the sacked duo contemplate other means of getting money, Alan tells Mark that 'you know as well as I do this won't end well,' even as Mark carves a rocking horse for the daughter whose Nativity play he has promised to attend.

Inexplicably, and rather abruptly (although this seeming anomaly is explained later), Mark is drawn back to his old criminal colleagues and, with Alan, is assigned to assassinate three brothers suspected of horning in on the drugs racket run by Caddy (Harper, once Dog in Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels). Talking of which, when we see the sawn-off shotgun that bent garage boss Toni (Howe) tries to flog to Mark, we just know it's going to play a part in the film's visceral climax.

If the script contains as many expletives as you'd expect, director Thorne, who also wrote the film, has an ear for witty low-rent dialogue and even throws in a slightly enigmatic ending. Though riddled with unpleasant characters, his film is something of a pleasant surprise in a seemingly outworn genre.

David Quinlan

UK 2020. UK Distributor: Lightbulb. Colour (uncredited).
94 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 3.

Review date: 10 Dec 2020