★★★★ out of ★★★★★
British feature The World We Knew combines a gangster film with supernatural and psychological horror elements. The result is a sharp-as-nails outing that delivers plenty of eeriness along with solid direction and crackerjack performances.
Directed by Matthew Benjamin Jones and Luke Skinner
The World We Knew is a top-notch British gangster/horror film hybrid that sees a group of crooks hole up in a run-down country safe house after a heist goes sour — and matters are only going to get far, far worse for them as the night goes on. Wonderfully written and directed, and featuring splendid performances, this offering delivers psychological and supernatural horror, weaving its chilling spell on viewers as past sins of the gangsters come back to haunt them, in multiple senses of that word.
A shoot-out with police leaves one of the crooks dying, and evidently one of them is a police informant as it seems that there was a tip-off. No-nonsense man-in-charge Carpenter (Finbar Lynch) barks orders as the men await further orders from unseen mastermind King, elderly Barker (Struan Rodger) acts as the calm voice of reason after a long stretch in stir, ex-boxer Gordon (Johann Myers) becomes increasingly unstable as he ingests any alcohol or drugs he can find in the house, baby of the bunch Eddie Poe (Alex Wells) is obviously distraught after killing a police officer, pensive club owner Stoker (Kirk Lake) daydreams of using his share of the loot to open a new club on a beach, and fellow gang member HP (Simon Rhodes) lies gravely wounded in a bedroom upstairs.
King demands that the men stay put overnight at the creepy, rundown safe house while he tries to discover who tipped off the police. It is there that the criminals come face to face with their pasts, those both recent and further behind them, such as Eddie being taunted by the ghost of the cop he killed during the botched robbery. Trapped between their unwise life choices and something sinister and supernatural in the remote house, these gangsters are soon to find out that being captured by the law isn’t the worst thing that could happen to them.
The World We Knew codirectors Matthew Benjamin Jones and Luke Skinner, who cowrote the screenplay with Lake, have crafted a gripping chamber-piece chiller that absolutely drips with dread and that features sharp, sometimes dark-witted dialogue. The characters are all marvelously conceived and are brought to cinematic life by the ensemble cast members, who inhabit their characters superbly.
Review by Joseph Perry
The World We Knew, distributed by Mutiny Pictures, debuts on VOD and DVD in the United States on January 11, 2022.
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