Silent Night is showing in UK cinemas from 11th December, on digital download from 18th December and DVD from 28th December. It’s a violent Christmas gangster film about a South London hitman Mark (Bradley Taylor – Surge) recently out of prison and trying to get his life straight in order to take care of his daughter. He’s doing odd jobs and living out of a van so when his old cell mate Alan (Cary Clarkson) turns up to persuade him to do one last job for some big money he finds it hard to ignore.
He also gets an invitation to come back to his old firm and duly accepts to see them – but to tell them that he’s not coming back. The firm is having problems and has had a visit from ‘head office’ about the instability of their crime racket and the family boss Caddy (Frank Harper – Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) is under pressure to get things sorted. Caddy is doing an entertaining Cockney Godfather impersonation whilst trying to finish his sticky spare ribs and give Mark his next job, which is to take out the Azziz brothers who are suspected of encroaching on their turf. So it’s perfect timing for Mark to be returning back to the firm to do one last job.
The lure of the cash to help his family is too much, especially under the heavy persuasion of the edgy Alan, he’s unable to escape his past. All the while Mark is facing the problem of keeping this quiet from his estranged partner Julia (Angela Terence – Wallander), not wanting to let her know he’s back into crime or tell her where the money is coming from to support their young daughter.
The hit is a big job and Mark needs the help of an old acquaintance in the guise of Pete (Nathaniel Martello-White – Small Axe / Mangrove) who’s had to take a step back himself from being a hitman to run a drug den at home having fluffed a hit for Caddy with Big Dick the Bouncer. Seamus (Joel Fry) is his stoner partner who is another member of the old firm and they’re all pleased to see each especially for Christmas showing a sentimental bond between them which is like an EastEnders reunion despite their line of business.
It’s a film that mostly steers away from the glamourising of crime and gangsters with a more social human focus on Mark’s deep desire to be there for his daughter whilst struggling to keep on the straight and narrow and adjust to life back on the outside. The violence is enough to be quite frightening and disturbing without being too visual and Mark’s partner in crime Alan carries this threat off successfully well as the unhinged social misfit with an aptitude for violence. Some of the situations are risible like openly discussing their activities at Wimpy’s where there is an equal sense of alarm and stilted laughter.
Overall as an alternative Christmas film whose only link with any Christmas spirit are the Christmas lights and dinner but despite the broody undertones and a lack of carol singers there is a slight line in Cockney Lock Stock swagger including an irreverent sequence of Royal family jokes for the genre fans to enjoy. Otherwise it’s a violent London gang dispute over clubs, drugs and prostitution, taking place outside of the salubrious bright lights of the West End and shinning a dark light on the lesser attractive corners of London’s urban sprawl.
Film: Silent Night
Director: Will Thorne
Stars: Bradley Taylor, Cary Crankson, and Frank Harper
Genre: Crime / Thriller
Run time: 1hr 33min