Comedown opens well and is fantastically atmospheric from the start. The tower block looms eerily in the background as the characters are established. The mash-up of genres is dealt with effectively and using a tower block gives the film a subtle social message that Menhaj Huda delivered so well in Kidulthood. Some great sound design comes into play here too, the use of everyday sounds, such as the noise of trains passing, are used to good effect and really enhance the horror elements early on.
Character-wise the film struggles, the gang are identikit characters to most British urban films and, as a result, don’t prove to be a particularly likeable bunch. This can go one of two of ways for a slasher film. It’s undoubtedly satisfying to watch unlikeable characters get killed off, but the audience needs a hero to empathise with. Whilst the lead character does appear to have some redeeming features, he has just been released from jail and is obviously still a part of gang culture. Rightly or wrongly this will be turn off to a lot of viewers. This isn’t the first film to suffer from this problem but Comedown at least deals with this better than Attack the Block (in which a mugger turns out to be a hero).
So what about the bad guy, a menacing figure who stalks the tower block in a hooded jacket? It’s nothing new but he proves effective enough here even if he is a lot more effective when kept in the shadows than brought out into the light. The tower block, coupled with a menacing hooded figure, delivers effective scares for the first half. Once we see the antagonist torturing his victims, the film strays a little too close to Saw territory for its own good, and blood and gore creep in at the expense of atmosphere. This is a real shame because the opening forty minutes are genuinely tense and, had the film kept this up, we could have been looking at a great little horror. It’s not all bad in the second half though, the ending is certainly not what the audience will be expecting, helping make up for some of the film’s shortcomings.
Overall Comedown is not too bad and is certainly an entertaining genre piece, the kills are suitably horrific and there is fun to be had. It’s just a little disappointing that the film squanders its early promise and just ends up being okay when there was potential here for something much better.
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