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Plot: A year after witnessing a murder, residents of Tower Block 31 find themselves being picked off by a sniper, pitting those lucky enough to be alive into a battle for survival. Runtime: 90 mins Release Date: 20 Sep 2012
Superior, effective British real time thriller that really works (by davideo-2)
STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday MorningSerenity House is the latest in a long line of high rise London tower blocks scheduled for demolition, with the niggling problem of a few remaining residents on the top floor. A year before, however, a young man was brutally murdered there and his killers never brought to justice because nobody talked. A year later, those remaining residents find themselves at the mercy of a sniper's rifle, as one by one they are plucked off as they try to work out how to survive and who is behind <more>
it.These grim, gritty urban British dramas have all become pretty interchangeable, with some seemingly appearing out of nowhere on DVD, some getting maybe a limited release in theatres here and there and some enjoying more of a mainstream following. A familiar sight in these films tends to be the titular 'tower blocks', the high rising tenement complexes which, at the beginning of the film, are acknowledged as having originally being seen as a wondrous privilege after the second world war for those lower down the scale in society but which, over the years, deteriorated into decadent, run down hell holes, breeding grounds for crime. Despite it's impressive visual style and dark sense of foreboding, if Tower Block had gone down this same route of exploring social breakdown, it could simply have been an impressive but ultimately forgettable effort. As it is, it's a film in a league all of it's own, a hard hitting, unbearably tense and scary effort that works wonders.The first 'sniper shot', as the first victim casually sits and talks with another character over some coffee, genuinely made me jump out my skin and sets the tone for what's about to follow. It shakes the foundations of a typical urban Brit flick and adds a high concept idea all of it's own that makes it stand out and keep you riveted. The grainy, drained out camera style and whirring digital soundtrack were already working when the film started, but as the story progresses, it works even better. In this already dismal, hopeless setting, we find a host of characters, some more sympathetic than others, thrown together and forced to over come their hostility and prejudices to one another in order to make it out alive.Cast wise, it's best to focus on the two main characters, who also happen to be played by the trendiest, most up and coming stars. Jack O' Connoll is hardly stretching himself as a swaggering, tough talking wannabe bad boy, but that doesn't make his presence any less effective, and it's wise to play a part he tends to specialize in. As the heroine, Sheridan Smith delivers, as a feisty, determined young woman who tries to keep a cool head while everything around her goes mad. In their own way, all the supporting cast are as big a part in making it what it is and no one can be denied their dues.In a genre that has a tendency to be a bit hit and miss, Tower Block is just a success, tense, atmospheric, jumpy, challenging, uneasy, claustrophobic and just a shattering new spin in a genre, that pays off splendidly. *****
Die Hard meets Assault on Precinct 13 on a low budget nerve-shredding! (by raspberry4life2002)
SEVERANCE scribe James Moran does it again with another sharp, bloody script containing a social message relevant to our times. 3 months after witnessing the death of a teenager, the residents of the top floor of a tower block awaiting demolition find their reluctance to talk to the Police coming back to haunt them when an unseen sniper starts picking off anyone who unwittingly goes near a window. Sheridan Smith Gavin and Stacey and Jack O'Connell Skins head a uniformly excellent cast in this taut British thriller that doesn't skimp on the blood or the depiction of the true cost <more>
of looking the other way when someone's in need and you could help them - but don't, because you're too scared or complacent to do so.
Story was ok, acting excellent. Can't understand why they didn't fire the flats when they knew the situation. They needed a signal no other way open. Otherwise an enjoyable film.
Exciting, gritty, funny! Think twice before you thrown open the curtains... (by TheSquiss)
Tower Block is a lesson in how to make fine films in single locations with tiny budgets that are character driven, effects-light and based on sharply written simple premises, which are blackly funny but still suspenseful. That Tower Block marks the feature directorial debuts for James Nunn & Ronnie Thompson, is astounding. What a way to start! 1950's Britain saw the birth of high-rise blocks as a solution to the post-war population boom. For a while they were popular for their views and originality. Then we grew up, realized how bad they were for morale, how quickly they became havens <more>
for crime and we started demolishing them.Fast forward to preset day London. The residents on the top floor of one such tower block have stubbornly remained in their flats until the council can rehouse them, despite threats from the developer who has acquired the land and to being victims of extortion by number one grunt of the block, Kurtis. When a resident is beaten to death in a vicious attack, all but one of the other tenants bolt their doors and hope the trouble will go away. But Becky's heroics count for nothing and her bruises cause her to withdraw, too. Then, one morning several months later, a sniper starts executing them.The stylized title sequence sets the tone of the film with muted colours, camera angles that make heads tilt and an intensity that puts the viewer on edge from the outset. We know there'll be a shot fired sooner or later, but it's still a jolt when the initial shot happens. It certainly makes an impact We're given only the briefest introductions to the characters before the dying commences in style. It's ruthless when it happens and the 90-minute running time ensures the pace is tightened for maximum impact. But, though the journey is swift, Tower Block is far from being only about action and brutality. Each character who survives the initial onslaught is given some time to breathe and relationships are hastily forged where previously there has been barely a glance shared on the top floor.The closest Tower Block comes to a star is Sheridan Smith, an actress who made her name in TV Eyes Down, Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps and has earned plaudits and gongs on the stage in Legally Blonde and Hedda Gabler. In Tower Block, Smith states her intention to conquer the big screen, too, with a strong performance as a determined woman forced to lead a clutch of neighbours fighting for survival despite dwindling options and rising tempers.Excellent as she is, Smith shares ownership of the limelight with Jack O'Connell Eden Lake, Harry Brown as Kurtis. Though Kurtis is utterly detestable from the moment we meet him, O'Connell subtly unravels him to reveal insecurities and fears that have been shrouded in a flapping cloak of aggression for years. Deep within this morally corrupt monster lies a code of conduct and a pragmatism that one can't help, well, if not liking then at least enjoying. And screenwriter James Moran has gifted him some of the funnies quips of the film.The supporting cast forms a who's who of council estate characters and there's a certain amount of pleasure to be gained from guessing who's destined to become the next splatter of pulp across the wall. And when it inevitably arrives, each demise brings its own cocktail of wince and smile.Moran, who is given a moment of glory with the presence of his Cockneys Versus Zombies poster, writes from within each character with the same tone he set in 2006's Severance. There are no pointless monologues of exposition, just beautiful, jagged and bitterly funny snatches of conversation that reflect each character's evolution from their reticence to reveal too much, to the spewing of emotion when their mortality is callously close. If this is anything to go by, next year's Silent Night of the Living Dead could be stunning.Though last night's audience was woefully small, it was a preview screening and the buzz with which the viewers left was palpable and Tower Block is likely to be a film that steadily builds an audience via word of mouth. And so it should. It's an exciting, gritty, funny film and, in the current batch of 'films in towers', though it falls short of the virtually flawless The Raid, I suspect it ranks higher than Dredd and positively towers above Man on Ledge and Tower Heist.Tower Block misses perfection for some silly mistakes it is impossible to point out here without giving away plot lines other than to say the final act of violence was three inches the wrong side of cheesy and when a certain character improvises with 'armour', only in the worst moments of Hollywood would it be adequate. But these are but silly errors of judgment in an otherwise riveting film that'll have you thinking twice before you thrown open the curtains.For more reviews from The Squiss subscribe to my blog at www.thesquiss.co.uk Like the Facebook page: http://on.fb.me/RpitOG
In a well-worn genre, a classic trapped ensemble piece that exceeds expectations (by larry-411)
The "tower block" drama has become a sci-fi/horror subgenre in itself. Known as high-rise apartment buildings in the West, they are especially ubiquitous in Europe where they provided cheap postwar housing in countries which didn't have the large tracts of land or economic and political hubris that "allowed" us to build highways and expansive suburbs on this side of the pond. In America, they were primarily constructed in cities as public housing for low income residents displaced by interstate highway construction and leveling of aging dilapidated neighborhoods in the <more>
name of "urban renewal." Many of these large projects were built in Eastern Europe by the Soviet regime and have begun to fall apart and be abandoned, mirroring the actions of their government overseers. But everywhere, including Western Bloc countries like the UK, they've fallen into disrepair and are rife with rampant crime and crippling poverty. This is fertile ground for writers of mystery, sci-fi, and horror -- hence the proliferation of films set in these often enigmatic structures."Tower Block," the first feature for UK co-directors James Nunn and Ronnie Thompson, focuses on the last remaining residents of the ironically-named Serenity House, a rundown building which is slated for demolition and has been abandoned save for its top floor. Eviction is on the horizon, no authorities are present to ensure anyone's safety, and a boy is brutally attacked with impunity. What happens next will challenge everyone's sanity and sense of moral judgment.Nunn is an industry veteran, serving as First Assistant Director on two dozen titles prior to this directorial debut. Writer James Moran scripted "Severance," which I saw at my first Toronto Film Festival in 2006 after an auspicious Cannes debut. It was one of the biggest hits on the 2006-07 festival circuit. He also penned "Cockneys vs. Zombies" which played here at Fantastic Fest immediately following my "Tower Block" screening.Every actor gets kudos for the movie's emotional punch, making it hard to single anyone out. But, as Kurtis, Jack O'Connell provides much of the heart and soul of the film, as well as its dry wit and comic relief. He was clearly the audience favorite here. Sheridan Smith, Jill Baker, Ralph Brown, Loui Batley, Russell Tovey, Steven Cree...all are affecting and outstanding.Cinematographer Ben Moulden's appropriate reliance on hand-held camera with extreme closeups is crucial in capturing the dangerous confines in which the protagonists attempt to survive. Rapidfire action sequences are ratcheted up by the astute, sharp editing of Kate Coggins.Lighting serves the narrative perfectly. The typical look of these buildings is cold, with a color palette that pushes the blue and pulls life out of the towers' public spaces, and "Tower Block" doesn't disappoint. Hallway lighting is dim and subdued with shadowy cold spots that often frame the actors in silhouette, almost giving the film a black and white appearance. Apartment interiors are warm with an amber glow, safe spaces where the innocent can find solace, at least for awhile.Certain genres demand a soundtrack that helps build tension and enhance the desperation of the characters. Owen Morris' original score accomplishes this admirably. Sound design is spectacular and creates a character unto itself. Rarely have sound effects been used so effectively as a plot device in ways the viewer will discover.This is a classic trapped group in peril piece, set in the narrow, claustrophobic hallways that define the titular tower block. As a familiar subgenre film, we have a general idea where the narrative will take us, so the key to the story lies in the ability of its ensemble cast to arouse audience empathy. Whether old or young, male or female, rough or sweet, mean or compassionate, including parents and children, victors and victims, and those who inevitably transform via dramatically satisfying arcs, there are sympathetic characters for every viewer. We can all relate to one or more of the residents, making palpable their fear and confusion. We become invested in who survives or not, and one thing I can guarantee: you will not be able to predict the outcome. In the end, that's why "Tower Block" exceeds expectations.What makes the high-rise building fodder for freaky films? Perhaps it's simply the sight of these structures, haunting hulks of concrete and steel that beg the question, "What goes on behind those hundreds of windows?" "Tower Block's" answer? Don't go in. You may never get out.
A very taut and suspenseful thriller (by Woodyanders)
The residents of the apartment building Tower Block 31 witness the brutal murder of a young man. However, the case goes unsolved because of their refusal to tell the police what they saw. A year later, a mysterious sniper who's out for revenge lays siege to the building. Directors Ronnie Thompson and James Nunn, working from a compact script by James Moran, relates the gripping story at a swift pace, builds a considerable amount of claustrophobic tension, makes fine use of the rundown main location, and maintains a hard gritty tone throughout. The moments of bloody violence are quite <more>
shocking in their savage suddenness. The sound acting by the able cast keeps the movie humming: Sheridan Smith makes for a strong and sympathetic heroine as the tough and determined Becky, Jack O'Connell provides plenty of brash attitude and wickedly amusing sarcastic humor as nasty and obnoxious punk Kurtis, and Ralph Brown does well as rugged old-timer Neville, plus there are praiseworthy contributions from Russell Tovey as nice guy alcoholic Paul, Jill Baker as Neville's feisty wife Violet, and Julie Graham as whiny bitch Carol. Best of all, the extremely streamlined and economical simplicity of style evident throughout ensures that there's no padding or filler of any kind. Both Ben Moulden's polished widescreen cinematography and the spare pulsating score by Owen Harris are up to speed. A real neat and effective little nail-biter.