With Down Terrace (2009), Kill List (2011), and now this gory black comedy, British director Ben Wheatley has carved out a niche all his own, combining exploitation-movie narratives with exquisite, Mike Leigh-style ensemble acting. Here he takes on the old killer-couple-on-the-run premise, making the murderous lovers sensitive lower-middle-class eccentrics reminiscent of Leigh's Life Is Sweet (1991). The result, however nervy, is less than the sum of its parts. Alice Lowe and Steve Oram (who also wrote the script) are compellingly weird as the lovers, though their performances oscillate from cuteness to psychosis, never suggesting fully realized characters. Wheatley is strikingly effective in his manipulation of tone, establishing a queasy intimacy that only intensifies as the movie progresses.
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