Mob Handed full movie review - Divisive and Deranged Exploitation
God, where to start. First, i want to state that i have a lot of love for director Liam Galvin's feature debut Killer B*tch.
One of, if not the only low budget British genre film of recent years that i re-visit without the feeling that i'm wasting my life on this arena of tax rebate shysters and am-dram hardens with RED's. Finally, out of this self-important, self-inflating filmmaking sub-culture, someone came out with psychotronic majesty. A film for the ages, time will show Killer B*tch to be the perfect time capsule of this era of independent British filmmaking. Not only are all the usual suspects responsible for the era (like in Mob Handed) are in front of screen, it's humour and vulgarity make it guaranteed it will find it's audience.
Now, with his second feature.... It is really difficult for me to review this film.
On one hand, it's pure tabloid style exploitation filled with righteous, populist anger like Fight For Your Life (1977) or Tenement (1985), sincere with it's aggression without forgetting to entertain as well as "inform".
On the other, it's a open call to murder, or at least very convincing of being one. No matter if the targets are pure scum. A subject matter so grim is at odds with the fist through glass through face directorial style and makes for an uncomfortable ride, which is the point i guess, but come on, you're killing these c**ts by motor-cross and Tank, then try to tell a sincere story about a mother's loss of her daughter. Pick an angle!
I guess I'm at that point that every fan of exploitation cinema dreads reaching when their limit is met and approach material that is just "no, that's just wrong". Whether it's the goat feeding in Top Sensation (1969) or near everything in Nekromantik (1987) or a certain piece from Serbia whose, let's be honest, only lasting legacy is going to be installing xenophobia in people, boundaries are met and those who laugh, laugh a little too hard.
Mob Handed meets that boundary for me. Yewtree and the V.I.P scandal have uncovered revelations that have put firm nails in that notion of a Great Britain. Moral exceptionalism that justified concentration camps in India and the Troubles is now rightfully seen as the barbaric mindset that it was and the exposure of these elite scum is going to serve well to further push Britain, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century. A braver, more secular nation, hopefully.
The issues raised in Mob Handed are ones that DO need to be raised in British cinema and TV. A Savile biography for instance, is essential, not as an attempt to heal permanent scars, but more a national apology, a time capsule of the establishment saying sorry for allowing such evil to fester.
Mob Handed goes in some ways towards being this apology. But however, it's too reactionary and pitchfork provoking to be seen as a serious text and investigation into such matters. I question the amount of research that went into the script. A sentence i would have slapped myself over when attempting to describe Killer B*tch. However, this is the game Galvin wanted to play, even going so far as to devote the film to abuse victims in the end credits.
Contradictions was one of the reasons why i liked Galvin's debut so much; their sheer volume and their place within a variety of departments. Accomplished (probably) licensed soundtrack, yet impoverished sound design. Sympathetic female lead, yet misogynistic humour throughout. Self-referential, forth wall breaking humour yet a narrative riddled with clichés. Beautiful stuff.
Mob Handed has these as well, but their contrasts are more sharply felt by the audience. Sultry pop rock played over a predator chasing a girl. A camp as all hell supern**ce (A severely repressed Daily Mail reader's interpretation of Freddy Kruger) blowing Jason Marriner before killing him (off screen, thank Christ). An overwrought, but mother of god is it sincere, kangaroo court scene followed by a Freddy style 'gotcha' ending. If you had told an uninformed me that Mob Handed was made six months (not six years!) after Killer B*tch, i would have believed you then and there. However, if you told me the writer was on heroin, I would had also believed that.
I guess it's down to personal sensibilities rather than any fault of the film. I mean, Killer B*tch was not without it's rape or casual sadism, but i was under the impression for the long while that i was viewing the work of a mad genius. Back down to earth, i realise that i was just watching a serious and skilled, despite unproven, filmmaker slumming it, despite evidently enjoying himself.
Mob Handed seems to be more his speed and I find it to be both commendable and condemnable in equal respect. Galvin tackles a sensitive subject matter insensitively and the result is yet another car wreck. But the best thing i can say about Mob Handed is that it is uniform to Killer B*tch and proves Liam Galvin is a bonafide force of nature and that his previous feature was not a fluke born out of insane circumstances. I reckon that even if this was a more conventional female rape revenge narrative, i'd warm up to it more. I guess it speaks volumes of my character that it's only when children get involved do i find things get too much.
Removed from my better judgement, i recommend Mob Handed as a true blue example of WTF cinema. It's a sorry, angry little film that is still worth ten of it's kind for the sheer disturbing passion involved in the production.