Matt Farnham reviews Calibre, released as part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival.
When expectant father Vaughn joins old school best friend Marcus on a hunting trip in the Highlands things, go from bad to worse quickly.
After a fun first night the duo head out to the woods where a tragic accident leads to them covering up the death of a young boy. One wrong decision after another compound the situation and before they know it the locals are on the hunt for them.
Matt Palmer’s first feature-length film builds on his award-winning catalogue of shorts and offers a mature step into the longer form. Some beautiful shots of the Highlands and some great long shots show the total isolation of being in the mountainous ranges of Scotland, giving the characters the perfect setting to lose their morals.
Some excellent scoring and use of drums and strings build the tension in important moments throughout the film. Sound always play an essential part in any thriller, and Palmer’s awareness of this is evident as he uses silence to great effect with some scenes relying entirely on diegetic sound.
Jack Lowden (Dunkirk) is Vaughn and as a character is almost entirely dictated to by Martin McCann’s (Frankenstein Chronicle) Marcus. Both actors perform admirably with the lions share of close up and dramatic brooding falling to Lowden. The supporting cast is led by Tony Curran (Underworld: Evolution) is excellent as Logan the cool-headed town leader, and most likeable character in the film.
The story that runs through Calibre will not offer up many surprises but does enough to keep you interested throughout the duration. A quick set up of a first act is followed by a long second act where the tension slowly builds before a surprisingly short and sharp third act.
The problems with the film start with the leaves the overly long second act sometimes lagging as there are many false starts and convenient plot devices that keep the leads in town. Match this with Marcus who had no redeeming qualities and only serves to make situations worse for Vaughn.
Vaughn as a character is also not the most relatable and often seems weak and dictated to by Marcus. These two led me to understand the perspective of the townsfolk, especially Logan and Anna (Olivia Morgan) and felt more supportive of them than both protagonists.
Problems aside Calibre is a thriller that does a good job of building tension and making the viewer feel the desired effect. The film brings the beauty and isolation of the Highlands through well and even raises the growing issues of small-town Scotland. Calibre is a worthy film that is better than a lot of the Hollywood fair that graces our screens weekly.
Calibre, directed by Matt Palmer, running time: 101 mins.
Showings: Friday, 22 June 8.30pm, Cineworld. Saturday, 23 June, 3.15pm, Odeon 2. Saturday, 30 June, 3.15pm, Filmhouse 2.