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Down Terrace -- Film Review

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There's a deadpan streak of larceny coursing through the corroded pipes of "Down Terrace," a darkly comedic approach to the British working-class social realism inhabited by Ken Loach and Mike Leigh.

A first feature by TV director Ben Wheatley revolving around a family of small-time crooks determined to sniff out the snitch responsible for sending the father and son to the slammer, the scrappy kitchen-sink drama takes some diabolical turns that have a habit of sneaking up on you.

Recently screened at the Los Angeles Film Festival -- it had its U.S. premiere this year at Slamdance -- the import is slated to take up theatrical residence next month via Magnet Releasing, a division of Magnolia Pictures.

Returning to the claustrophobic flat that lends the film its title, the recently incarcerated Bill (Robert Hill) and his bickering son, Karl (real-life son Robin Hill), are anxious to resume the struggling, shadowy family business they run along with downtrodden wife/mother Maggie (a terrific Julia Deakin).

But first they must determine who among their dysfunctional circle of associates ratted them out to the cops, and, several cups of tea and hits of recreational drugs later, the whittled-down list of suspects appears to hit a lot closer to home.

Wheatley, who also wrote the articulate script with Robin Hill, is in no rush to get to the more sinister stuff, allowing the mundane but amusing domesticity to set the relaxed pace.
The production comes by its authenticity naturally -- and not only because several of the cast members (fascinating faces all) happen to be related.

Shot over the course of eight days in Robin Hill's actual Brighton childhood home and completed within a month, "Down Terrace's" seemingly off-the-cuff approach effectively conceals a decidedly sinister schematic.

Venue: Los Angeles Film Festival (Magnet Releasing)
Production: Baby Cow Prods., Boum Prods.
Cast: Robert Hill, Robin Hill, Julia Deakin
Director: Ben Wheatley
Screenwriters: Ben Wheatley, Robin Hill
Executive producers: Robin Hill, Ben Wheatley
Producer: Andrew Starke
Director of photography: Laurie Rose. Music: Jim Williams
Editors: Robin Hill, Ben Wheatley
Rated R, 89 minutes