Gatecrash is a 2021 psychological thriller from Lawrence Gough, based on a play by Terry Hughes. It opens with a rather beautiful and picturesque shot of the English countryside at dusk, when a speeding car disturbs the peace and alongside a prominent score, promises us a rather tense and thrilling start to the film.
And in this aspect it doesn’t disappoint. Gatecrash disposes with any preamble and pitches us straight into the action. A couple return to a rather maze-like and futuristically styled home in the middle of an argument, but what at first seems like a domestic argument is in fact much more serious: the husband, Steve (Ben Cura), has just committed a hit and run. He’s drunk, abusive and wants his wife, Nicole (Olivia Bonamy), to take the blame. And it wasn’t just an innocent accident as Steve not only knocked someone over, he drove over them again in his rush to flee.
The first 15 minutes follows this argument and then as it endsas Nicole and Steve separate inside the house; him to clean up any evidence from the accident and her to discretely take a pregnancy test. This soon begins to drag, and fortunately we’re saved by a sinister phone call from the landline, that appears to be coming from Steve’s mobile, that he hasn’t seen since the hit and run. This soon escalates into something verging on horror territory as we follow Nicole around their now claustrophobic house.
It’s this middle act that I enjoyed the most as Gatecrash turns into a tense and almost terrifying thriller, as Nicole and Steve have to face off against a mysterious and menacing police officer (Samuel West) who arrives on their doorstep. West is possibly my favourite part of this film, his character is completely over the top and ridiculous yet still portrays thisstrange, ominous air. It’s strange to find a character who is immensely fun to watch yet still manages to terrify you. He’s further helped by his character’s unexplained and questionable motives that give this thriller an intriguing air of mystery.
Following on from the aftermath of the hit and run, the film jumps to a later time after Nicole has had her baby and again the couple are visited by another mysterious stranger, this one called Sid (Anton Lesser). At first Sid seems like a kind, lovely old man but his unusual air and conversation soon unveil yet more hidden and sinister motives that culminate in a tense finale.
It’s this final act that I was least keen on. At first the dialogue between Sid, Nicole and Steve is gripping but it seems to drag on and keep going round in circles before it finally gets to some dramatic piece of action. This dragging dialogue is definitely Gatecrash’s biggest flaw, and this is in no doubt down to it’s theatre origins. On the stage I can see dialogue like this working well, but as a film it needs a lot more oomphto keep our attention. The cast do well to keep us entertainedthough, Olivia Bonamy puts in a very understated performance as Nicole and Ben Cura was delightful to watch as Steve purely because the character is a rather despicable excuse for a man. And fortunately Gough’s cinematography works well with the few action scenes to try and make up for the slumps in the dialogue heavy earlier scenes.
Overall Gatecrash is a fairly enjoyable thriller and is worth watching purely for its general air of mystery and the tense and exciting second act.
Gatecrash will be available for digital download from February 22
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