Bex and Dawn are trapped. They dream of taking control of their lives and owning their own upmarket cafe, but no one will give people them the opportunity.
As brutal and hard hitting as Bait is, there is something comforting about watching a film set in locations that I know, people that I can relate too and situations which don’t seem to far beyond reality. While Bait has all these elements, it does drop the ball a little towards the end with some extreme violence which becomes a little cartoonish. Having said that the rest of the film by far makes up for this and I really did enjoy Bait.
While it’s not really a film to enjoy, it’s a hard hitting urban thriller about money lending, thugs and revenge. Yet while the subject in itself doesn’t sound like it should be playing at Frightfest, the reality of the film is that people do go through this type of horror every day. The end violence takes the film into a more defined genre piece and while I’m not that keen on it, it still works to a degree. Yet maybe I would end up going all Rambo as well and the result could be similar (not that I’m like that!)
The location is superb, Northern towns just lend themselves to this gritty type of film. The bleakness of the landscape, the dullness of the buildings just add to the harsh life these people are in. Throw in a superbly well written set of characters and it just draws me right into the film, it keeps my attention, it makes me care, it makes me like the film.
Dominic Brunt has directed a solid film here, extremely well written by Paul Roundell and with an outstanding cast. Victoria Smurfit (Bex) is on great form, and gives a wonderfully cocky yet quite vulnerable performance. Joanne Mitchell (Dawn) isn’t quite as cocky but again gives a great performance as she tries to hold it all together, as her world is falling apart around her and finally Jonathan slinger is extremely good. They have a great script to work from, which is full of humour to start with but as the situation gets worse, the script reflects that, yet there are a couple of nice one liners towards the end. Oh the end, let’s not dwell there, you know I’m not keen, it may grow on me in future watches, but I will be picking this up on DVD soon.
Dominic Brunt came to Frightfest with his first feature film back in 2012 Before Dawn; a low budget zombie horror set in a small Yorkshire town. It was well received both within and outside the realms of the festival. So we were excited to hear that he would be returning this year with a terse thriller that couldn’t be more different to his debut. Realistic, gritty and tense, Brunt’s Bait is definitely one that lingers long after the credits roll.
At its core are two terrific performances from female leads Victoria Smurfit and Joanne Mitchell (Brunt’s other half) who play friends and work colleagues Bex and Dawn. Desperately trying to set up their own cafe but struggling to find the sufficient funds they find themselves drawn to the seemingly generous and kind Jeremy (an extremely edgy performance from Jonathan Slinger) who comes up with a solution. Jeremy offers them the funds to propel their dream into reality. However things soon turn nasty when he expects regular repayments and makes them suffer until they can deliver the goods.
The script is dynamic and delivers tension on every level. This is a rather brutal story of revenge that could easily happen – and probably has in the past – and has that gritty edge that sets it apart from many similar films. It gets straight to the point and builds up the tension perfectly. These are characters you can sympathise with and when the climax comes it’s even more suspenseful as a product of strong writing. Smurfit and Mitchell are superb as the powerful female friends trying to get revenge on this monstrous man who threatens to tear their lives apart if he doesn’t get what he wants. That brings us to Jonathan Singer; he’s a great mixture of charismatic, fierce and truly quite scary at times as the menacing Jeremy. He’s arguably one of the best British villains of late.
Brunt has come on leaps and bounds since his directorial debut and he really kicks up a storm here. The film is well shot but it manages to project a gloomy atmosphere which adds to the bleak nature of the story. The violence is shocking and extremely effective and it’s hard not to be on the edge of your seat during a very tense scene towards the end. It will be very interesting to see what Brunt chooses to do next as he is clearly very versatile and has the talent to go on and make even more thrilling films both in and outside the genre.
Bait is out on DVD on 7th September 2015.