K-Shop (2016) [Ithaca Fantastik 2016]

k-shopFollowing his father’s death and an accident with a client, Salah starts down a revenge path against racists and those who have wronged his father and himself. Written and directed by Dan Pringle, this vigilante-horror film delivers plenty of vengeance and bloody violence with some original ideas on how to get rid of the bodies.  It has themes that will hit close to home for some such as racism, familial duty, wanting for a better life, etc.  Of course, what makes the film interesting is the less than common (and advisable) path the lead takes towards his goals.  His vengeance is violent, bloody, and rather merciless.

The lead character is fairly well written and his main antagonist has enough background to make him truly despicable.  The rest of the characters are pretty thin and only there to serve their short term purpose with few exceptions who come into play towards the second half and end of the film. As the entire film revolves around lead Salah, the actor chosen to play him had to be able to carry the entire film almost completely on his own.  The actor trusted with this part is Ziad Abaza who takes it and imbues it with a conviction and lust for revenge that pulls the viewer in and keeps them involved throughout the film.  He has a good, strong screen presence without being an obvious vigilante.  His character has layers and he shows this in his interpretation.

Playing Salah’s main antagonist, or enemy, one man he most wants to take down is Scot Williams as Jason Brown, a reality TV star turned club owner, promoter, and generally scummy human being.  Williams plays this part with glee, clearly enjoying being the powerful bad guy.  His being almost a complete opposite to Abaza in how they are in their respective parts adds interest to the story. The special makeup effects by Jennifer Drew and Jenny Nelson along with the visual effects by Kyran Bishop, Doug Brown, and Laura Johnson create the kills, wounds, dead bodies, and other effects which are at the core of the film’s horror elements.  Their work look great on camera and the blood is just the right shade of dark red while being quite plentiful.

In a film this dark and with the center idea that is here, the effects had to work or they would have killed the film. K-Shop is a horror film with central themes that are much more than a simple slasher, it shows more in depth ideas while the way it is done makes it feel like a simple revenge film.  It could and should have been more.  It is entertaining but the ending basically kills the whole film which is much too bad as it is a very good film until those last few minutes.  The film almost has a message while being a good horror film with lots of revenge and kills, which only makes that lackluster ending more frustrating.  What makes that ending feel out of place is hard to pinpoint, perhaps it’s the tone, or it’s writing, but something about it feels off and perhaps tacked on while it may very well not be.

The rest of the film has a certain feel to it, but this part, however short it may be, does not.  The film is still worth seeing and perhaps having a warning about this will help viewers appreciate this ending better.

Ithaca Fantastik 2016 ran from the 9th until the 13th of November 2016.