A frenetic thriller that barely pauses for breath, Tower Block proves a real shot in the arm for British genre cinema – pun intended.

Granted, it stretches the boundaries of plausibility at times to the absolute limit, but this sniper flick has more than enough going for it.

It’s just a shame that the film got a scant cinema release (with box office returns to match) last year, but hopefully the DVD release will put the record straight.

Set in a near-deserted tower block that is awaiting demolition, the film takes very little time in getting started.

While virtually all the residents have long left the decaying building, a few hardened souls remain on the top floor, awaiting rehousing.

In the opening scenes those same residents ignore the cries of a teenager, who is beaten to death by a couple of hoods in the corridor.

Fast forward a few months and the residents are still there, stubbornly refusing to pack up and leave.imagesCAKFH8ZD

Suddenly though a novel approach is taken to clear the premises – a sniper rifle.

Out of nowhere an unknown, unseen gunman starts picking off the remaining tenants, forcing them out of their apartments and into the corridors for shelter.

Even worse, this well-prepared nutjob has also booby-trapped the entire premises, ruling the lifts and staircases out of the question.

Somehow the killer has also wiped out the mobile phone signal, meaning the tenants have no way of contacting the authorities, no way of escape and no way of fighting back.

Who will survive – or, for that matter, will any of them survive?

In fact, that remains one of the sticking points of the film, as it is pretty obvious from the outset to pinpoint who will live through to the end credits.

Granted, there are a couple of superbly-handled shock deaths that grab the viewer by the throat, but you can pretty much chalk up the survivors from the get-go.

Leading the way is Sheridan Smith as Becky, a tough-as-nails character who rallies the residents when petty squabbles threaten to rip them apart.

Smith is joined by an impressive collection of British talent, from Jack O’Connell (who reprises his Eden Lake scumbag role), Russell Tovey as an alcoholic loner and even Alien 3’s Ralph Brown (look, I know he did other films that were better received, but I love Alien 3).

Co-directed by James Nunn and Ronnie Thompson, Tower Block positively simmers with tension and the tetchy relationships between the various characters is very well handled.

It also provides a satisfying amount of carnage to boot, with bullets flying around and plenty of bloody injuries.

In fact, chances are you will be cheering when some of the characters get offed – well, I did anyway.

The reason being that some of the characters are so obnoxious and incredibly annoying that it quite simply has to be deliberate on the part of the filmmakers – I hope so anyway.

There also is a whodunit-style unmasking at the close of the film which also does nothing for the viewer, for the blunt reason that it is pretty obvious all along who the killer is – if for no other reason than a lack of possible suspects.

I know all this sounds like I have a bit of a downer for Tower Block but that really isn’t the case – there are just a few niggles that would have made it even better.

But this thriller grabbed my attention right from the off and kept me more than interested throughout, with plenty of twists and turns along the way.

Tower Block seems to have passed most people by to date – make sure that is not the case on DVD.

 

Extras: Disappointingly, a behind the scenes featurette and that’s it

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.