Written by: Daniel Hadley
Directed by: Dan Pringle
Cast: Ziad Abaza, Scot Williams, Lucinda Rhodes Thakrar
K-Shop is a movie I recently became aware of while I was browsing the trailers on IMDB and I added it to my watch list out of curiosity. It seemed like a strange blend of Death Wish and Sweeney Todd and although I hated Tim Burton’s version of Sweeny Todd (I may be in the minority on that one) I enjoy its themes none the less, and who doesn’t love Death Wish?
So the story goes, Salah has taken time off from pursuing his degree to help his father run his kebab shop in Bournemouth England. It’s a difficult job, as for most kebab shops in the UK their busiest hours are when all of the night clubs close and many patrons stumble through the doors with the smell of cheap alcohol and cigarette smoke on their breath (in the UK we refer to such a state as being of your face). So Salah and his father are treated to an onslaught of unruly, rude, racist and aggressive customers, which is unfortunately pretty true to life these days. Salah’s father takes it all in stride but when he comes across a few particularly aggressive customers he winds up dead in a senseless act of violence that scars his son deeply, which is probably the reason he begins carving up all the assholes that stumble through his door and serving them back to their fellow assholes in the form of his Kebabs. The transition from humble kebab shop owner to vigilante serial killer is more gradual than I let on but that’s the crux of the story and it’s well done for the most part.
K-Shop was a surprisingly layered movie. It touches on racism and certain aspects of modern societies seeming degradation into thug culture and how the bustling nightlife of the UK’s club scene has its dark side. These are poignant issues and K-Shop isn’t shy when it comes to showing the worst of people. The synopsis does sound a little corny but I have to say writer/director Dan Pringle has crafted a mature and serious horror movie. Such an approach is often the nail in the coffin of similar movies, when you have a cheesy premise taking it too seriously can often sap any fun out of it. But K-Shop establishes its tone early and takes a very realistic approach, and it works.
Salah has some great monologues about the state of the UK’s clubbing culture and how thugs think they can just steam roll their way through life without any consideration for the people they’re trampling over. Having seen these kinds of people first hand I can attest to how utterly vile they can be and while I’m not condoning Salah’s actions, he does make some fair points.
The performances are strong and each character is perfectly believable. Every customer feels entirely realistic and that’s the main reason I felt K-Shop worked so well: it’s utterly grounded in reality (except maybe that a serial killer like Salah wouldn’t really be able to get away with all of that murdering and what not) and its characters are perfectly realized.
Where the film falls down slightly is in how the plot just seemingly meanders along with no clear end goal, Salah doesn’t have a plan or an endgame as he kills those he deems worthy and moves from one target to another without any real idea on what he’s headed towards, beyond just ridding the world of rude, aggressive dickheads. For a vigilante serial killer it’s a fine way to go about your business, but the movie doesn’t really have a plot outside of that. A few subplots just drop out with no conclusion and the ending, while fitting for Salah as a character, is a bit disappointing in that he arrives at his final destination without being in pursuit of something greater than just killing another bad guy. That’s not a spoiler, by the way. If you see the movie – and I do recommend it – you’ll know what I mean.
K-Shop is an interesting character study into the mind of a man who is pushed just a little too far, and it makes some fine points, but unfortunately lacks a clear destination. In the end it gets lost in its own narrative, not exactly knowing where to take itself. Its ending while definitive, left me unsatisfied. But again, with the movie being so grounded I suppose it was a suitable climax. A bombastic action sequence or an overly bloody showdown would have seemed too out of place. I’m still recommending K-Shop though it’s narratively is flawed, I can forgive that shortcoming due its strong lead performance and its ability to take an absurd idea and make it work in a gritty realistic setting.