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Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio Commentary; Ashley Walter’s Crib; Theatrical Trailer.

ASHLEY Walters, Andy Serkis and Steven Mackintosh make a compelling central trio in Gary Love’s volatile Sugarhouse – but they’re frequently let down by a padded out screenplay that struggles to escape its stage roots.

The film picks up as middle-class city worker Tom (Mackintosh) meets young crack-head D (Walters) to pick up a gun. Against his better judgement, he’s lured back to D’s abandoned warehouse for some unnecessary banter unaware that psychotic local thug Hoodwink (Serkis) is on the rampage following the theft of his own firearm.

And when Hoodwink finally catches up with them, Tom must work with D to survive while being forced to confront the reasons that drove him to require a weapon in the first place.

Adapted from Dominic Leyton’s 2003 play Collision, Sugarhouse is designed to be a a tightly wound pot-boiler that thrives on the simmering tension between its three very different protagonists.

And on that level it delivers some noteworthy performances, especially from Serkis (terrifyingly intense) and Mackintosh (looking admirably out of his depth). Walters, too, looks and acts every inch the crack addict.

But the film is badly let down by attempts to flesh out the central construct and to stretch it out to feature length. The depiction of violence does, on several occasions, feel like its trying to shock a little too much and feels like a cheap and exploitative tactic to broaden its appeal to the Lock, Stock fan brigade (especially in its depiction of the numerous beatings).

And several of the supporting characters lack any real depth and appear to have been included as padding. Coupled with some of the less believable actions of the leading trio, it places a strain on the credibility offered by the hand-held digital filming technique.

Come the drawn out revelations and the dubious moralising that goes with them, Love’s movie has all but lost its power to grip and, worse still, threatens to descend into cliche. Only the performances prevent it from entirely doing so.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 92mins