New Town Killers (2008)

We’ll live and die in these towns…

The theme of sadism for kicks has become something of a staple in modern cinema – think Michael Haneke’s Funny Games, for example, or Chan-wook Park’s Oldboy. It seems that it’s no longer enough for protagonists to commit heinous acts out of psychological compulsion or desire for revenge; it’s far more chilling to watch people willingly inflict violence on their fellow man for no other reason than to get their kicks. And, although Richard Jobson’s New Town Killers won’t set the British thriller genre alight, it’s certainly a disturbing viewing experience.

Alistair (Dougray Scott) and Jamie (Alastair Mackenzie) are two city-slicking hedge fund bankers who find their thrills in playing 12-hour games of hunt, hide and seek through the streets of Edinburgh with those who are less fortunate. Their next target is Sean MacDonald (James Anthony Pearson), a poverty-stricken teen attempting to support his pregnant sister. Having been told that if he stays hidden until morning he’ll win a heap of cash, Sean soon realises that the reality is far more deadly…

It’s no coincidence that Alistair, who changes the rules of his sick little game at will, is a banker with an enormous chip on his shoulder when it comes to the working class. Barbed social commentary spikes through the heart of Jobson’s film, which is a scathing attack on the massive gulf between rich and poor; the wealthy have all the control, while the rest are – literally- at their mercy. It’s just a shame that Jobson’s warning about the dangers of excessive greed is somewhat overwhelmed by the pantomime villainy of Alistair, and the fact that the chase plays out like a twisted computer game – although this was, apparently, an intentional visual choice. Intriguing, if not entirely successful.

3 stars

(This review has also been published on Little White Lies )

Stars Dougray Scott, Alastair Mackenzie, James Anthony Pearson
Director & Screenplay Richard Jobson
Certificate 15
Distributor High-Fliers
Running Time 1hr 40mins
Opens June 12