K-Shop (2016) Review (available to rent on Amazon)

K-Shop (2016) is a rare British horror/ revenge thriller gem. Sweeney Todd meets Taxi Driver with a social conscience, only in Bournemouth. Stick through the realistic gore effects for an often quite moving story about a man acting out his vengeance on a drunken, debauched society.

It says a lot about the intensity of Ziad Abaza’s acting that he can make you sympathise with someone who’s ostensibly a serial killer, but the unbearable awfulness of the British public at their vomit-coughing, knickerless worst just about keeps you onside.

Dan Pringle manages to tread a fine line between keeping Ziad’s Salah relatable in his conquest to fend of English’s worst extremes and making sure you’re horrified at the steps he takes to enact his vengeance. Well directed, taut and tense throughout, it manages to sidestep its initial foray into torture and chunks of flesh and slip into the skin of something more emotionally charged.

Salah’s alienation is equally down to his immigrant status, peering through the windows of his shop to the zoo outside and being jeered at, threatened and insulted because of his ethnicity. A young teen with a middle-eastern background he picks up for weekend help equally empathises with his plight. Through their eyes, its hard to see the stream of barely-coherent, fat-headed Brits as anything but rabid animals.

Even that view is challenged later on in the film. K-Shop combats its potential status as a simple slaughterhouse by throwing up a mirror at its protagonists and antagonists, while also recognising the futility of violence and the inherent depression and sadness that drives people to different extremes.

Looking through some of the reviews of K-Shop, I honestly feel like many reviewers are skirting over the depth of characterisation it offers to focus purely on its more extreme aspects. But this isn’t some basic Eli Roth horror show, it has something to say. I’m looking forward to seeing more from Dan Pringle in future.

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