Penned and directed by Dan Pringle, K-Shop is a kickstarted British horror movie with a reputation that is rather more impressive than the film itself. Having courted controversy even before its release, with a Kurdish community group from Bournemouth (where K-Shop is set) petitioning the government to censor its distribution, it’s disappointing that the finished product doesn’t live up to the furore that surrounded its production
K-Shop is a modern twist on Fleet Street’s demon barber, Sweeney Todd, set on Bournemouth’s debauched night-time streets. The setup is played fairly straight: politics student Salar (Ziad Abaza) visits his father, who is struggling to keep a kebab shop running profitably, and ends up taking on the business after a fatal altercation between some drunken “lads” and his sole parent. As one might imagine, this doesn’t very well endear our protagonist towards the excesses of British drinking culture and what follows is (at least initially) a relatable fostering of resentment and disgust towards boozy crowds that flood the streets every weekend.
However, when Salar gets into a fight of his own with a stubborn drunken customer, a scrap that ends with the partygoer dead by way of a deep fat fryer (credit goes to SFX artist Jen Nelson for great prosthetic work throughout), things rapidly take a gory turn for the absurd. Like Sweeney Todd himself, Salar bizarrely decides that the best way to dispose of the body is to mince and season it; packing it on to a skewer and serving it as a British 2am staple, the doner kebab. Lumped around this plot device are meandering themes of societal injustice, hedonistic excess and the degradation of public values. Undoubtedly meaty stuff, but sadly it’s more gristle than fillet steak.
Although Ziad and his supporting cast give laudable performances (including Scot Williams in a suitably hammy portrayal of sleazy club owner and drugs kingpin Jason “Slushy” Brown), the writing isn’t strong enough to remain engaging for the feature’s duration. Despite dark humour and occasionally apt social commentary, K-Shop is just like its subject matter: suitable for a drunken binge but unappetising in the sober light of day.
K-Shop is released in selected cinemas on 22nd June 2016.
Watch the trailer for K-Shop here: