Twisted is the best way to describe Straightheads, a low-budget British revenge thriller from up-and-coming writer/director Dan Reed. Gillian Anderson and Danny Dyer star in what is essentially an excuse to wallow in nasty sex and even nastier violence - and sometimes both simultaneously. There are occasional stabs at something approaching a thoughtful analysis of the human condition, but by the time the curtain falls, you'll most likely be left feeling violated.
Anderson's turn as city slicker Alice is the highlight, although neither character inspires empathy. She coolly gives Adam (Dyer doing his 'cockney geezer' bit) an eyeful of her best assets on the CCTV he's just installed for her, and then invites him to a shindig in the country. But a quick roll in the hay leads to a shattering encounter with a gang of vicious thugs. After a harrowing rape scene, Anderson introduces a new vulnerability to Alice whilst also sharpening that steely edge. She's bent on revenge and Adam, driven by guilt, agrees to help.
"EXPLOITATIVE AND DEPRESSING"
An interesting reversal of roles ensues, with Alice losing her taste for violence as Adam is increasingly turned on by it. The tension plays out in a few memorable sequences, like Adam's reaction to watching Alice on CCTV as she searches the house of their prime suspect. But Reed perhaps shares too much common ground with Adam. His fascination with sordid acts and the dingy depths of the corrupted soul overwhelm the screen. Overall, the action feels exploitative and depressing, with only a few late concessions to the nobler (feminine) side of the human spirit. An uncommonly brutal dissection of mankind.
Straighheads is released in UK cinemas on Friday 27th April 2007.