Disliking superhero movies as I do, there is a dearth of anything decent up at the cinema, so I’m reviewing this recent release. It’s a British thriller focusing on married couple Kate and Justin, who are expecting their first child. They live in a first floor flat, and a couple, Jon and Theresa, move in below, who are also expecting. We know we’re in for a mix of middle-class tension and psychological horror when we see the overly pristine garden the downstairs, and this is borne out when they host a dinner party. Whereas Kate and Justin put off having a baby and then got pregnant without trying, for Jon and Theresa it has been a long held purpose, only now realised after 7 years.
There are echoes of Rosemary’s Baby and French gore flick Inside in The Ones Below, but it’s a more more subdued, tense affair. Clemence Poesy is particularly engaging as Kate, slowly unravelling with the manipulation of the coldly sinister Theresa, and David Morrissey is convincing in his now familiar creepy, controlling bank exec type. It’s well scripted, every item and scene has purpose, as is revealed in the final denouement. The principle of Checkhov’s gun states that everything should have some contribution to the narrative and writer/director David Farr seems to have really taken this as a mantra.
It dips around two thirds through, we know what the likely outcome will be, and there is a sense that some tropes have to be worked through before we can get there. And it doesn’t quite overcome it’s ‘funded by the BBC’ feel, ironically Farr wrote the Night Manager for TV which had a more cinematic sense than this. But it’s a decent psychological thriller, and both Farr and Poesy are probably destined for bigger things.