13th November 2020 (UK)
A manor house in disrepair and a landowner with a fierce temper and cash flow problem meets his match when confronted with a bill he can’t pay. Time is running out and the builders living on his land want their pound of flesh. When it becomes clear there is no cash, a red mist descends, the class divide widens and a simple dispute turns into a shockingly horrific display of violence as events spiral out of control.
Goran Bogdan, Kevin Guthrie, Chris Reilly, Amber Rose Revah, Steve Speirs
In Will Jewell’s cracking crime thriller Concrete Plans, five disgruntled builders resort to desperately drastic measures when they overhear there’s no money coming their for the extensive restoration work they’re undertaking in the remote Welsh Highlands.
Marking the full feature debut from Jewell, Concrete Plans opens with an ominously bloody scene to then slow the pace down dramatically for the next hour or so. Fortunately, the quintet of shady labourers who we follow are compelling which in turn builds a solid foundation for the dire circumstances they eventually find themselves mixed up in.
Not only do they have to contend with the short-tempered and snooty homeowner Simon (Kevin Guthrie; Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald) but with each other as well. The frequent internal altercations are a refreshing addition and keep things unpredictable, given that the builders are rarely on the same page. Led by well-intentioned big softie Bob (UK TV favourite Steve Speirs; Star Wars: Episode 1), he’s the closest thing to a peacekeeper in the picture. His decisions attempt to toe the line between everyone, but it gets to a point of impossibility with the alpha male personalities he must contend with. Most notably, bigoted thug Jim (Chris Reilly; Everest) who is holding secrets of his own even before work has begun.
Jim’s brutish ways appeal to Bob’s young and impressionable nephew Steve and his behaviour becomes increasingly similar to that of Jim’s. The majority of the abuse is directed at Ukrainian Viktor (Goran Bogdan, who I thought bore a striking resemblance to a young Tom Hardy), a relatively quiet man who can handle his own when push comes to shove. The unlikely gaggle of grafters is rounded out by Dave (William Thomas), a world weary worker who’s getting too old for this sh… well, you know the rest.
While their personalities may clash, there’s one thing that ties them all together – money. And when Simon reveals there’s not going to be any, combined with the squalid living conditions he’s put the men in, something has to give. One of the reasons I enjoyed Concrete Plans so much is it never felt out of the realms of possibility. The small problems mount up to a huge dilemma that, with the temperaments we’ve come to know of the builders, is inevitable. It doesn’t make it any less gruesome and uncomfortable of a watch, however.
My biggest gripe with Concrete Plans is a wholly unbelievable romance angle which feels shoehorned in and ultimately becomes a major part of the plot. I never fully bought into it and to me it felt extremely out of place in an otherwise plausible albeit extreme situation.
Nevertheless, Concrete Plans is a moody, character driven thriller which benefits from taking its time to set its characters traits in stone before delivering a sledgehammer of a finale that will have you questioning what you would do in their Size 10 Steel toe-capped boots.
Frightfest Presents: Concrete Plans is available on Digital Platforms from 23rd November 2020 through Signature Entertainment.
Takes its time to get to know them, resulting in a more effective Third Act
Overall believable story
Shoehorned in romance subplot