‘You are what you eat.’
K-Shop is a 2016 British horror feature film written and directed by Dan Pringle. The film was produced by Mem Ferda and Adam J Merrifield of White Lantern Film. It stars Ewen MacIntosh, Darren Morfitt and Lucinda Rhodes.
Producer Mem Ferda explains the premise: ‘It’s high time a socially relevant film like this was made highlighting the significant problems of drink culture that is prevalent amongst our ‘teen’ society today. I can best describe it as an intoxicating, super-slaughter, Sweeney Todd-esque ride that cleverly has a stab at British binge drinking. It will certainly have partygoers think twice about stopping off for a kebab on the way home.’
This Sweeney Todd inspired horror/thriller has been praised for its gloriously gruesome special effects and director, Dan Pringle, was acknowledged in five categories at the British Independent Film Awards. Let’s face it, you can’t get more British than opening scenes of boozed-up nightlife and the chaos that comes with it: vomiting, vandalism, slurred profanity, ill-fitting tube dresses and, yes, kebab shops.
Salah (Ziad Abaza) returns to Bournemouth on the south coast to help his sick father run his takeaway shop while studying for a degree in politics. He quickly learns that the worst part of the job is the drink-fuelled customers with threats of violence and racial abuse towards their Turkish ethnicity. An altercation with these fools results in the death of Salah’s father, but with no eye witnesses or CCTV footage, he’s driven to take justice into his own hands.
Salah uses his dad’s dreams of opening his own restaurant as a focus and keeps the shop open, even though mounting debts mean he can’t order meat. Another drunkard causing trouble leads to a struggle, and the idiot falls and frazzles his face in boiling chip oil. The blistered, sizzling flesh is so realistic that it can almost be smelled by viewers, but given the unhelpfulness of the police in previous dealings, Salah fears the repercussions of his actions.
After dragging the body into the basement, Salah chops it up and stuffs it into the meat grinder to serve to customers. Amazingly, the human kebabs are an instant hit and the viscous, hacking gore scenes are enough to turn even meat eaters’ stomachs: everything from mushy mince to stripped bones, which Salah dumps in the ocean to avoid discovery.
The victims all have a ‘Slushy’ stamp on their arms from a nearby nightclub run by fictional Big Brother winner, Jason Brown (Scot Williams). The plot then skips to almost seven years later and Salah, now with a more dishevelled appearance and a lot cockier, has gathered a stash of stolen personal belongings – which is probably the most ludicrous part of the film. With modern technology and policing, it’s hard to believe that he wouldn’t have fallen under suspicion or at least been questioned by the police.
Next in the shop is a drug dealer dressed in a duck costume, who Salah decides to use for his next batch of meat. Snooping through the man’s phone, he realises the drugs are also connected to the Slushy club and tracks down another fancy dress dealer. Unbeknown to him, his failed assassination attempt is witnessed by a group of stoners, who crease up in hysterics at the spectacle. One of the lads, Malik (Reece Noi) idolises Salah and asks for a job, goading him to take action every time a pisshead walks into the shop. In particular, a guy called Steve played by Darren Morfitt (Dog Soldiers) who kicks off for having to pay a pound for cheese – more classic Britishness – before urinating up the shop door. Seeing the infamous Slushy stamp, Salah chains him up in the basement and torments him with force-fed booze and a roasting of the verbal kind.
Things heat up when the skeletal remains wash up onshore and people, including club owner Jason, become suspicious. Steve talks about his miserable childhood and dying father, to which Salah decides that enough is enough and frees the man. Unfortunately, Malik has already rumbled him and isn’t too pleased to get the sack.
After capturing evidence of Jason as the ringleader for all of the drug dealing, Salah is kidnapped and drugged by the owner’s heavies – tipped off by Malik. Jason claims that his ‘kind’ don’t know how to have fun, and Salah is stabbed before making his escape. With the nightlife in full swing, he’s mistaken as another drunken thug and bleeds to death; meanwhile, Jason is blamed for the murders and arrested. Though slightly anti-climatic after such a long build-up, there really can be no redemption for Salah’s killing spree.
While critics have bashed K-Shop for sloppy scriptwriting and underdeveloped characters, anyone who’s witnessed the dark side of Britain’s binge-drinking culture will cringe at the shameful likeness. The endless shots of shameless partygoers may be a tad overdone, but most of it is actual footage from the Bournemouth nightlife. There are moments of lazy dialogue and Salah develops somewhat of an unflinching attitude towards killing, but the darkly comedic tone is effective in counteracting the grittiness of this film. If anything lets it down it’s the two-hour running time, which some sharper editing could have fixed. More gross-out British drama than Saw, if you’re watching K-Shop for the scares then you’re likely to be disappointed.
Rae Louise, MOVIES & MANIA
“Salah grows more sensitive rather than desensitised as his campaign of murder fails to change the world … The climax is intricate and full of multiple ironies… With strong work from a good cast (Abaza in particular), this joins a small group of British horror films rooted in observation and anger (Eden Lake, The Riot Club, Tony)” Kim Newman, Screen Daily
“Sweeney Todd meets Charles Bronson? It’s an interesting idea, and there’s a nice visual gag involving Henry Kissinger. But there is no focus, it runs out of ideas, and we get endless ambient shots of people getting drunk in the streets. It sags – which is a shame.” Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
“Overall, K-Shop isn’t exactly food for thought. It doesn’t leave you questioning what you know, but it does exactly what it intends to do. It entertains its viewers with admirable performances, a stylistic approach and an engaging and comic story line.” Joshua Gill, Flickering Myth
“While it is too long at 115 minutes, and at least one of the subplots is unnecessary, Pringle’s careful approach means that a lot of the more ambitious social commentary works: the abuse that Salah is confronted with does feel very relevant in our country’s current situation, as do the scenes of drunken violence.” Jonathan Hatfull, SciFiNow
“It’s a cross between a thriller and an outraged tabloid article about the perils of alcopops. But this short film idea can’t sustain a feature, no matter how much chilli sauce and cranial trauma you pack into it.” Wendy Ide, The Observer
- Ewen MacIntosh
- Darren Morfitt – Dog Soldiers
- Lucinda Rhodes
- Scot Williams
- Reece Noi
- Jamie Lee-Hill
- Sean Cernow
- Ziad Abaza
K-Shop was released by Breaking Glass Pictures in the US on December 12th, 2017 via DVD and VOD.