Nightshooters is a British black comedy martial arts action film about a small indie film crew who use a condemned building for a late night shoot and accidentally become prey to a brutal gang.
I think Nightshooters was the sweariest film shown at Mayhem Film Festival; but looking back at the content, it’s actually not inappropriate at all. It is full of violence, gangsters and people getting over-bloody-excited. And Nightshooters is great fun.
Marshall (Adam McNab) is making a cheap zombie action film, as he has got his claws into a has-been actor (Doug Allen), a stuntman (Jean-Paul Ly) and a dedicated crew. He gets them all into an abandoned building he’s found, which is perfect for some atmosphere and action, knowing that they haven’t got long to use it: it’s due to be demolished the next day. What they don’t know is that the demolition company is run by a criminal boss Tarker (Richard Sandling), and he’s installed himself and his crew in the next building in the block for a spot of intimidation and torture. The film crew accidentally capture a gangland execution on film, are spotted before they can scarper, and thus find themselves putting their teamwork, acting and practical skills to work in surviving the night, rather than making Dawn of the Deadly.
That execution I just mentioned is extremely brutal and visually shocking and gave me pause to wonder if I was actually watching a comedy. But the ignorant henchmen combined with witty dialogue, comeuppance and escape made of DIY survival skills truly did provide lots of laughs. Nightshooters was very cleverly written so that the viewer cannot guess at any time who is going to come out on top, and indeed who is going to die horribly; and I’m talking about both good guys and bad guys. Both teams are fallible in their own ways, and thoroughly human.
Nightshooters was written and directed by Marc Price… and it could not have been more different to his first feature, Colin, which is famous for being a zombie film presented from the zombie’s point of view, and reputedly for being made for £45. In contrast, Nightshooters is full of action and tension and turns into the style of film that the filmmaker it is about wanted to make.
But though the film within the film, Dawn of the Deadly, may have had potential, there is much more to Nightshooters itself than it first seems: it is cleverly written so that most characters develop some depth as it goes on; we get to know them all and care about them, so when one of the heroes doesn’t survive an encounter, we can really feel for his mates and sympathise with their reactions… and cheer when the baddies suffer too. Many of the assaults are comical and original, and the whole plot is very well thought out, giving good use of both location and equipment: at no point did one of the film crew pick up a weapon or tool and cause me to shake my head at something handy just lying around; everything was logical and there for a reason.
Nightshooter‘s female cast had valuable roles, too; they did not just play victims or screaming people who got in the way or needed to be rescued, like in many (more old-fashioned, let’s say) action films… there was some of that of course, but in this film, the men and women were just as likely to be tough or feeble as each other. The film crew’s special effects and explosions expert is a very quick-thinking Ellie (Rosanna Hoult), who uses what she can get her hands on to help protect her team.
And the fight scenes: there are at least half a dozen set-piece scenes focusing on Jean-Paul Ly vs. one or more bad guys; sometimes with knives or other weapons, and sometimes just their own kicks and strength. Ly has played many stuntman parts over the years and it is great seeing a film in which that skill gives him a key role to play with some character. I did wonder once or twice whether it was a little stereotypical to have the Asian and black actors play the best fighters, or whether Price was simply making the most of people’s strengths; but Nightshooters does reflect the film within it, in which the director had found a great martial arts actor he wanted to use, so again, the approach makes sense.
Nightshooters will be coming to home media on 26 December, and I can recommend it… especially if you love a bit of British blood and violence with your swearing and laughing.