Director: David Farr
Screenplay: David Farr
Producers: Nikki Parrott, Dixie Linder, Nick Marston, Ben Hall, Christine Langan, Joe Oppenheimer & Lizzie Francke
Starring: Clemence Poesy, David Morrissey, Stephan Campbell-Moore, Laura Brin
BBFC Certification: tbc
Duration: 92 mins
These days it's easy to think a film such as 'The Ones Below' would be a yawn fest given how the psychological horror/chiller/thriller genre is all but played out, but you'd be wrong in this case. Instead this is film does a great job playing out suspicions about the motives of neighbours who appear a little too good to be true after a nasty accident which would leave most people on the warpath, but I jump ahead of myself.
The story centres around a thirty-something couple, Kate and Justin (played by Clemence Poesy and Stephen Campbell-Moore respectively) who are newly pregnant and filled with the usual anxiety tinged excitement of first time parenthood. However, the arrival of new neighbours into the flat below their London home is a welcome distraction, especially since the lady is also pregnant and at a similar early stage to Kate. It doesn't take long for the two females to develop a close bond based on their mutual condition, although they both appear to handle it in very different ways. New neighbour, Theresa (Laura Brin) is clearly enjoying her pregnancy and very much looking forward to having a baby with her older husband, Jon (David Morrissey). Kate on the other hand is full of anxiety and worries that she is not fit for motherhood, much like her own ice cold mother.
The two couples are as different as chalk and cheese; Kate and Justin are somewhat unprepared for the impending arrival of their offspring, whereas Theresa and Jon have been waiting a long time to conceive, and they seem to have everything all mapped out, which makes it all the more tragic when Theresa slips and falls down the stairs resulting in a miscarriage. They were just leaving a rather disastrous dinner with Kate and Justin which revealed just how different the couples were and ended in a near shouting match between the two men. On the way out Theresa is startled by Kate's cat and takes a tumble down the stairs. Now whether it was the cat, poor lighting in the corridor, or the shoes they'd left fastidiously arranged side-by-side on Kate's doormat, or a combination of all the above and sheer bad luck, it hit them hard and set off a series of events with rather sad and tragic consequences for Kate and Justin.
Suffice it to say the neigbours initially blamed Kate and Justin for the loss of their baby and had to go away 'to grieve their loss'. Meanwhile Kate went on to have a healthy baby boy which should have been a turning point, that is until the neighbours returned. After mending fences somewhat, Kate renews her friendship with Theresa and even starts to rely on her for adhoc childminding when she needs to get away from the baby. Kate isn't doing terribly well with with the baby or her relationship with Justin and this is only exacerbated by her suspicion of the neighbours motives in coming back. However, any attempt Kate makes to backup her feelings with solid evidence only result in making her appear paranoid and loopy. Things go from bad to worse and even Justin starts to question Kate's state of mind. You can probably guess the rest, but I'll leave you to go find out for yourself.
The film is well directed, acted and edited - no complaints there. As psychological-horror-chiller piece, some comparisons with such films as "Rosemary's Baby" is not altogether unfounded, if only for Kate's steady unraveling throughout the course of the film. I enjoyed it for what it was, a competent and well crafted journey into the darkest psyche of anxiety, motherhood, and loss. Decent job overall.
The Ones Below is available to buy on DVD & Blu-Ray from 4th July