Dan Pringle’s low-budget directorial debut K-Shop is a grisly but gripping Sweeney Todd inspired horror satire with plenty of bite. Upfront warnings for 18 certificate extremely strong language and gruesome violence are warranted, but if this is your cup of tea you’re in for an agreeably nasty treat. If you can’t see it the cinema (the release is limited), it is also available to download as of the 22nd July.
Salah (Ziad Abaza) is studying whilst helping his father run a Bournemouth kebab shop. When his father dies as a result of an attack by binge-drinking louts, Salah is left to run the shop alone. One night, after an abusive and violent customer too many, he fights back and… Well let’s just say he ultimately decides to go Sweeney Todd on his tormentors, leading to some interesting new kebab ingredients.
Abaza is very good in the lead, and the supporting cast also do well. Scot Williams is particularly compelling as an ex-reality TV contestant-cum nightclub owner/drug dealer/sex pest, with whom Salah eventually is drawn into a confrontation. Pringle makes good musical choices, and also builds suspense in a number of set pieces, adeptly disguising his budgetary limitations. The prosthetics in particular spare us nothing, and are satisfyingly unpleasant.
It doesn’t all work. A peculiar romantic subplot is underdeveloped and there are one or two other script problems, but on the whole K-Shop delivers the gory goods, both as a darkly nasty comedy and as a horror film. Although the satire is hardly subtle, it is effective, and certainly exposes of one of Britain’s darker sides with chilling credibility. Friday nights in town centres can be very frightening places, and that is where K-Shop derives its dark power.