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  Straightheads Homicide In The Countryside
Year: 2007
Director: Dan Reed
Stars: Gillian Anderson, Danny Dyer, Anthony Calf, Ralph Brown, Steven Robertson, Francesca Fowler, Adam Rayner, Antony Byrne, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Neil Finnighan
Genre: Drama, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 2 votes)
Review: Adam (Danny Dyer) installs custom-made home security systems for a living, but he might have got lucky with his latest client, a late-thirty-something businesswoman called Alice (Gillian Anderson). After he has completed the installation she invites him to stick around and have drink while she showers, and he catches sight of her undressing on the bedroom camera he has set up for her. When she asks him if he wants to attend a posh party with her, Adam isn't so sure, but with a little coaxing and a new suit from her wardrobe, they are both soon enjoying the occasion. Until the drive home through the forests...

When rape revenge movies were in their most popular period, that is the nineteen-seventies, they never really caught on amongst British filmmakers, perhaps because the censors wouldn't have allowed them to go so far, although I'd like to think it was because they found the subject distasteful. So with Straightheads here was a return to those days, scripted and directed by Dan Reed (not of the Network fame, one assumes) where all manner of atrocious behaviour was excused because the bad guys had been so despicable.

To rekindle those memories of Straw Dogs, much of this film is set in the English countryside where the locals are unfriendly - not that we see many of them, mainly the three villains who put Adam and Alice through their ordeal. What happens is that on the drive back from the party, they almost run into the back of a Range Rover being driven at slow speed and when they manage to get by Adam yells an expletive at them to let off steam. Further up the road, Alice accidentally smashes into a stag and they drag its unconscious body to a track.

Tragically, the Range Rover pulls up, three men get out and savagely beat up Adam and rape Alice, thereby providing the story with its chief impetus, that being, how do the attacked secure their vengeance on the attackers? There's a theme here about violence breeding more violence, nothing original there, but Reed has an axe to grind about men's threats towards women. So Alice is the one who picks up the rifle and sets about tracking down the thugs with a snivelling Adam in tow, and they settle in her late father's cottage which she has been left him in a plot convenience to draw up their plans.

In fact, the metaphor of guns being a male implement of violence is taken to ridiculous extremes, starting with Alice's shooting of the dog owned by one of the baddies (Anthony Calf). A note of uncertainty is introduced when it turns out this is the pet of his teenage daughter (Francesca Fowler), and we're supposed to think that perhaps our affronted hero and heroine should have gone to the police with their evidence instead. But a grudge is a grudge, and despite Alice eventually losing her taste for it, Adam's initial reservations fall away, which feels hypocritical on the part of Reed: are we meant to be disgusted by the end? Ashamed of our bloodlust, assuming we had any? Because the person who appears to be getting off on it the most is the director. Music by Ilan Eshkeri.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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