Tower Block (2012)

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Tower Block (2012)Starring Sheridan Smith, Russell Tovey, Jack O’ Connell, Jill Baker

Directed by James Nunn and Ronnie Thompson

The top-floor residents of the soon-to-be-demolished Serenity House get a lot more to worry about than just eviction when a murderous sniper begins picking off anyone careless enough to get close to the windows in action-thriller Tower Block.

Taking place one year after the brutal beating and murder of a young man in the top-floor hallway, during which only one individual, resident Becky (Smith), tried to help, things take a turn for the deadly when her latest one-night stand finds himself at the receiving end of a head-shattering bullet during breakfast. When the initial assault subsides, the remaining residents discover that not only is the killer watching their every move, but the building’s exits have also been fitted with lethal booby traps!

Tower Block is a tense and bloody experience, but one that stretches credibility much too often for its own good, hoping that the audience merely accept not only the flimsy premise but the killer’s wafer-thin motivation and modus operandi in exchange for a few adrenaline-fueled thrills. To its credit, the story is populated with well-defined characters that feel and act like real people, each with their own worldview and sense of morality. A high level of care at the script stage keeps everyone involved (except the killer, really) well rounded and identifiable in their actions, and each of the actors fit their roles like a glove – part of the problem, however, is that very few of them are actually likable.

Sheridan Smith, perhaps most well known for her long-running role in UK sitcom “Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps” imbues Becky with a very tangible “girl-next-door down on her luck” sensibility, and “Being Human UK” and Grabbers star Russell Tovey continues to display an impressive range with a sympathetic performance as struggling alcoholic Paul. Jack O’Connell provides most of the comic relief as the callous and thuggish Kurtis – the wannabe hard man forced to work together with the people he terrorises on a daily basis.

While the film certainly looks stylish in parts, and the spurts of violence are suitably brutal, Tower Block feels frustratingly restricted in action – a palpable sense of urgency and tension builds like a coiling spring but never manages to release, flopping instead with a damp squib of a revelatory climax. Put simply, it lacks the bombastic set-pieces and inventiveness to really stand out from the thriller crowd. Tower Block is, ultimately, a capable little time-waster, but unlike the rifle-wielding antagonist, it isn’t going to blow you away.

3 out of 5

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