Starting the beginning with the end, or if I’m going to be fancy the denouement or the moment where the film reaches its peak is always a risk. Emmerdale’s Dominic Brunt takes this risk with his Frightfest 2015 offering Bait – and luckily it pays off.

For me, a film starting with graphic opening scenes, a clear aftermath of a terrible incident then cutting to where it all began is a bit unnecessary. I don’t think it particularly adds anything to the film and certainly doesn’t make me more inclined to keep watching. Of course there is the argument entirely against this technique, with many film-buffs moaning that it can ruin the element of surprise during the finale scenes.

So we begin Bait with a screaming woman in a blood spattered bathroom and another woman running scantily clad and equally blood spattered up the stairs all with the non-diegetic soft music drowning out the real hullabaloo. The element of surprise is removed for me, yet my appetite to find out how these ladies landed themselves here is well and truly whet.

Bait stars Dominic’s wife Joanne Mitchell and Victoria Smurfit as two friends looking for a loan of ten grand or so to help them set up shop after a few previous failed attempts. In a last ditch attempt to get off of a stall in the middle of a freezing run down town that could be anywhere in Britain on a rainy day, where everyone is left scrapping their pennies trying to make ends meet, they cross paths with Jeremy.

Jonathan Slinger aka Jeremy prowls around the sorry looking market sniffing out potential victims for his loan shark lending business and the girls are willing bait until they realise the finer and more frightening details of Jeremy’s lending scheme.

Bex and Dawn are taken in by his nice guy approach and when he offers to help them out with their down payment for the café they verbally accept and then try to backtrack when he discusses their 40 months payment plan. Before women learn of Jeremy’s underhand and violent ways the audience have already been given a starkly different glimpse at nice guy Jeremy. Even when the cake baking entrepreneurs wise up to Jeremy’s scheme and refuse the loan, they are already in way over their heads and so ensues a game of cat and mouse.

Jonathan Slinger gives a fantastic performance shifting from weasel-like everyman to menacing criminal with ease. Joanne Mitchell and Victoria Smurfit are also on top form with stellar, believable performances from start to finish.

Bait is sure to be a hit due to the true reality of the story line – it seems like anyone in desperate times could fall victim to this kind of brutality – indeed loan sharks, debt and Brits seeking desperate measures is topical so Dominic has made a canny move approaching this urban revenge tale with candid honesty. The actors, the setting and the storyline keep it all realistic enough, and for me this always adds more suspense and fear to a film.

Furthermore, the violence is gritty and visceral only adding to the overall realism of Bait. Blood spattered gore, brutal beatings and threat are aplenty but not gratuitously so. I was gripped from start to finish thanks to Brunt’s improved character and plot development.

Frightfest London review: Bait
4.0Overall Score
Reader Rating: (2 Votes)

About The Author

Emily is from South London and has a degree in English Literature. Emily is a marketing assistant who writes about films and music in her spare time. Horror and grindhouse are her thing - although she will happily watch anything if it means a trip to the cinema.