Calibre (Netflix 2018)

As steaming services play a bigger and bigger role in the film and television industry, a lot of attention is going to their original content–but mainly streaming television shows. What about streaming movies? What hidden gems or washed up flops are hiding under the “___ Original” tab? Lets see what is awash in the stream.

Calibre – (2018)

Written and Directed by Matt Palmer

A Scottish thriller with a superficial similarity to Shallow Grave,  this movie stays more grounded with very few characters that could be reduced to easy labels.  Every action in this feels like something a real person would do, even as the tension increases.

It opens idyllically, with Vaughn (Jack Lowdon) and his pregnant girlfriend bathed in warm sunlight. Happy, peaceful, content. Vaughn and his  buddy Marcus are setting up for one last jolly before he’s lost to the world of nappies and night feeds, a hunting trip to the Scottish Highlands. This is shown to be Marcus’ idea, his character the more cocky, flash city guy.

Matt Palmer makes an excellent job of not zigging where you’d expect him to without entirely zagging either.  Yes, the village is remote, yes there’s the possibility of Straw Dogs/Deliverance locals and yet…most of the people are fine. There’s the obligatory Heid tha baw* squaring up to the outsiders but most of the townsfolk are fine. The movie does make it clear that they’re a long way from home, and that Marcus in particular needs to be a little less cocky, but this isn’t a bad place to be…..until a horrible mistake is made.

The slow ratcheting of tension as that mistake looms over Vaughn and Marcus is carefully played out. A more obvious film would have gone into violence and bloodletting with gusto, but here, while there is violence, it stays grounded. In no small part to the de facto town elder Logan McKay (Tony Curran)

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The film has some interesting things to say about the friction between the city and countryside. The promise of Marcus’s investment powers leading to the town being welcoming to the point of suffocation, when getting the hell away is all that’s on the leads minds. That extra attention raising resentment amongst the locals who aren’t getting special treatment. Again, the more obvious route would be making Vaughn and Marcus English and even more outsiders, but the restraint is in place.

The third act also, while gripping and tense isn’t the action fest that might have been taken. It keeps the fear and anxiety up even when in literal silence. With his full length debut, Palmer has definitely shown himself as one to watch.

Hidden Gem or Washed Up Flop? Hidden Gem