K-Shop Movie Review
Written by Joel Harley
Released by Bulldog Film Distribution
Written and Directed by Dan Pringle
2016, 115 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
DVD released on August 1st, 2016
Ziad Abaza as Salah
Reece Noi as Malik
Ewen MacIntosh as Nigel
Nayef Rashed as Zaki
“Quintessentially British” – a phrase usually used to describe films which star Maggie Smith or Billy Connolly, smiling away on the poster in a genial but dim manner. Actually quintessentially British: shouting abuse at a man in a kebab shop while off your face on Carlsberg, struggling not to piss yourself.
One of these British things is captured by Dan Pringle in K-Shop, a low-budget British horror film which most definitely does not star Maggie Smith or Billy Connolly. When his father is murdered by drunken hooligans, mild-mannered kebab shop owner Salah turns vigilante, taking out his vengeful frustration upon the offensively drunk, turning them into fresh meat for his rotisserie. It’s Sweeney Todd meets Taxi Driver, set in a kebab shop.
Look, if you’re aware of what constitutes your average bit of lamb doner meat, there’s probably no putting you off the stuff. Those indoctrinated on a diet of lamb doner should remain resolutely un-bothered by the happenings of K-Shop, in which Salah’s kebab-making process is depicted in gruesome detail. Probably still fewer nipples and balls than your average doner kebab, though.
As with most serial killers and vigilantes of this subgenre, it all starts with one fateful accident: in this case, Salah accidentally dropping an aggressive pisshead face-first into a deep fat fryer. From there it spirals, the kebab man going after everyone from drug dealers to loud, also aggressive women (plus their friends), turning the lot of them into kebab meat. While they’re truly a deserving lot, one can’t help but think Salah might be in the wrong line of work – a moody, judgemental grump, his line in chip shop banter leaves something to be desired.
There are times where this goes past the characterisation to extend to writer/director Pringle’s narrative voice, which is surprisingly solemn in a film about a man murdering people for his kebab meat. While K-Shop has moments (and Ewen MacIntosh from The Office) of humour, it’s no comedy. There’s what feels like genuine anger towards the drunken monsters who fuel Salah’s vengeance spree, making him more of a sympathetic prospect than most serial killers. It helps his cause that somehow Pringle has managed to gather a cast of actors all of whom stink at pretending to be drunk. This lends their exchanges with Salah a more antagonistic feel, making them seem more malicious than mashed.
Shades of neon and noir keep things visually interesting, while an ex-Big Brother contestant provides the film with its larger villain. A sidekick and a love interest also maintain a nippy pace and momentum, ensuring it’s never boring or without purpose. It’s more socially minded than one might expect from a film about a man turning people into kebab meat, thinking some pretty deep thoughts by the end. Not that this ever translates to a consistent tone or particularly likeable movie. With its repeated central message of English drunk people being belligerent, often racist assholes in need of a good kebab meat-ing, K-Shop is disappointingly one-note. Like its lead character, it really needs to lighten up a bit.
It is strikingly original, though – it’s a film set in and about a chip shop! – and competently, confidently made. And, like your average lamb doner, K-Shop is a horror film with balls.