The Ones Below
In the unstoppable sprawl of London, it feels as though its population of 8.9 million are all living on top of each other. Living in a tight space and hearing the voices on the other side of the wall can begin to drive anyone crazy. Director David Farr uses this urban claustrophobia to set the stage for a tense domestic thriller. Tensions erupt between two couples who are both expecting their first child, when they start to manipulate and terrorize one another. Kate (Clemence Poesy) and Justin (Stephen Campbell Moore) are happy with their careers, a nice London flat and a baby on the way. Their bubble bursts when they invite the couple below for dinner. Jon (David Morissey), a snide businessman, and Teresa (Laura Birn), who downs wine after wine to deal with his ego, cast a shadow over Kate’s pregnancy when Teresa falls down the stairs and loses her baby suddenly. Kate’s anxiety takes over when the couple from below return from holiday eerily eager and interested in the arrival of her baby and begin to pry themselves into her life.
The Ones Below has already been pinned with comparisons to Rosemary’s Baby, and the influence is very clear. The film works best when it attempts to enter into Kate’s fragile perspective and obscures reality by questioning the proceedings through her point of view. Too often, Farr sacrifices this for a cheap rug pull; as a result, character development is abandoned for poorly executed reveals removing any meager intrigue. The cast fare well with a weak script, especially Poesy, who admirably commits to a subtle portrayal of a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Even with the twists in the third act, there is very little story here, and the menace is never really fully felt as the characters become caricatures. The set design is the true villain, impressively building a claustrophobic atmosphere – the flats seem to shrink as the film moves along. The Ones Below is an entertaining but facile watch lacking the depth and intrigue to be considered a psychological thriller.
The Ones Below does not yet have a UK release date.
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Watch the trailer for The Ones Below here: